Vulnerable populations have a lot to lose with American Health Care Act

The $8 billion allocations proposed with the AHCA would have to cover the 17.5 million people who could lose coverage with Medicaid cuts.

In accounting, there’s a rule with acronym “LIFO;” this stands for “last in, first out,” which requires taking account of the most recent cost of products being the first ones to be expensed on the ledger.

I’m thinking about LIFO when it comes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which narrowly passed through Congress by four votes, with a final tally of 217 to 213.

Why “LIFO?” Because long-uninsured folks who just recently received access to health insurance as an on-ramp to healthcare services could lose this benefit, just months after joining the ranks of the insured.

Among the people who could lose essential health services and healthcare for pre-existing conditions are women and children, and especially children. Under the AHCA, Medicaid is at risk of losing $880 billion in funding; Medicaid covered nearly 36 million children under 18, and made up 51 percent of all Medicaid enrollees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The argument proponents of AHCA make to protect people losing Obamacare coverage is that $8 billion have been earmarked to cover people with pre-existing conditions. If you do the math, that $8 billion would have to cover some portion of some 17.5 million people who could lose coverage. The $8 billion would be sufficient to cover only some thousands of people, not millions. This has led a few critics of the AHCA to consider the law a transfer from lower-income Americans to higher-income Americans, fiscally supporting a tax-cut proposal Congressional Republicans will draft later this year. “Robin Hood in reverse” was the phrase coined by Congressional Democrats after the CBO report was published scoring version 1 of AHCA.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Most U.S. adults across the political spectrum favor keeping in place the Affordable Care Act’s (Obamacare’s) benefits for women and children, based on the March 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll.

The most popular of these provisions are health coverage for pregnant women, coverage of mammograms and cervical cancer screenings at zero-cost, health services for kids with no out-of-pocket costs, and equal pricing for women and men for the same health insurance policy – in other words, preventing being a woman from pre-existing condition status.

The Senate would do well to pay attention to the very simple fact that Americans want healthcare services just like our peers in other countries do, and are guaranteed – underpinned by health equity and health justice.

This blog was first published on Health Populi.

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