Revised Senate health bill still devastating for kids in Colorado

Written by: Erin Miller
Date Posted: July 14, 2017

Yesterday, leaders in the U.S. Senate released an updated version of a health reform bill and are planning to vote on the proposal next week. The revised version of the bill does not improve its devastating impact on kids in Colorado—especially kids in the most sensitive periods of their lives. We are at a critical point and need you to speak up for Colorado kids now.

We are expecting that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will release a preliminary “score” of the bill early next week. It will detail how the revised bill will impact health care costs and health insurance coverage. The Senate may vote as early as Tuesday of next week on a motion to proceed, which would start debate on the proposal, after the release of that analysis.

As with previous versions of the proposal, the bill goes beyond repealing the Affordable Care Act and includes the largest ever cut to the Medicaid program. The cuts include Medicaid coverage for populations who were covered before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, such as kids and pregnant women. The Colorado Medicaid program provides health insurance coverage to nearly half of Colorado kids at some point during the year.

Thousands of Colorado kids and families would lose coverage under this proposal. It guts consumer protections, does not protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and jeopardizes access to prenatal care, newborn care, mental health care and substance abuse services. The bill also raises costs for Colorado families; it would reduce the tax credits available for the purchase of health insurance so that Colorado families would be spending more to buy coverage that will cover less of their health care costs. The bill would blow a hole in the Colorado state budget the size of several billion dollars.

We urge federal lawmakers to start over, and use an open and bipartisan process to develop a health reform proposal that protects the significant gains that have been made in health insurance coverage for children and families, and that continues to improve the health care system and maintain the comprehensive benefits that are critical for children’s healthy development.

We are at a critical moment in the health insurance debate and calls to our federal representatives are more important than ever. Call our Senators first, and then contact your House member to share your concerns with this bill. The House will have to vote again on any proposal that passes the Senate, so it is important to continue to share your concerns with those Representatives as well.

Please speak up for Colorado kids. You can also call your Representative and Senators using the information below, and you can speak to any of these points that are important to you:

  • Share your personal stories about why Medicaid and affordable health insurance are important in your community.
  • Remind your Representative that if passed, this bill would be the largest ever cut to the Medicaid program – including a cut to coverage for kids and pregnant women.
  • Medicaid funding is essential to protect Colorado kids and parents. The proposed restructuring of Medicaid financing will shift costs to the states, force states to make impossible choices, and kids will get hurt.
  • Medicaid is most important in our rural areas and an important tool in helping our communities deal with the rise in opioid addiction.
  • Colorado will be particularly harmed by our constitutional financial constraints.
  • Tax credits need to make coverage more affordable in our rural areas.
  • Lawmakers should start over and use an open and bipartisan process to develop a health reform proposal that continues to improve the health care system and maintain the comprehensive benefits that are critical for children’s healthy development.

PHONE NUMBERS: Call both senators:

Sen. Cory Gardner: (202) 224-5941

Sen. Michael Bennet: (202) 224-5852

Look up your district here, then call your representative:

Rep. Diana DeGette: (202) 225-4431

Rep. Jared Polis: (202) 225-2161

Rep. Scott Tipton: (202) 225-4761

Rep. Ken Buck: (202) 225-5870

Rep. Doug Lamborn: (202) 225-4422

Rep. Mike Coffman: (202) 225-7882

Rep. Ed Perlmutter: (202) 225-2645

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin serves as the Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, leading efforts to improve health insurance coverage and quality for Colorado’s kids, improve access to health services, and ensure that every child has healthy places to live, learn, and play. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2015, Erin worked on the Accountable Care Collaborative team at the Colorado Department of Health Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience evaluating federal, state, and local policies related to Medicaid, CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs as well as working with legislators, policymakers, constituents, and other stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her professional experiences range from serving as a WIC Educator and Local Area Retail Coordinator for Denver Health to serving as a Special Assistant in the HHS Office of Planning and Evaluation in Washington DC and as a Health Policy Adviser and Budget Analyst for the U.S. House Budget Committee.