American Health Care Act Ready for House Vote

Last week, the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and on Ways and Means voted to approve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) for consideration on the House floor. We expect that vote to take place during the week of March 20.

AHCA repeals and replaces portions of the Affordable Care Act. LeadingAge is especially concerned about three AHCA sections:

  • Elimination of Medicaid expansion
  • Transformation of Medicaid into a per capita capped allotment to the states
  • Provisions for older insurance enrollees to be charged sharply higher premiums

These provisions would have a devastating impact on older workers, on residents of affordable senior housing, on people who need long-term services and supports in nursing homes or in the community, and on organizations that provide these services.

Following the House committees’ approval of AHCA, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimates of the bill’s potential impact. The CBO found that over the next ten years, AHCA would remove $880 billion from the Medicaid program, with 24 million Americans losing their coverage.

LeadingAge is urging Congress not to make the drastic Medicaid changes contained in the AHCA legislation. There are ways to make the Medicaid program even more cost-effective than it already is, and many states already are pursuing these initiatives. But the cuts that would result from the AHCA bill would exceed states’ ability to absorb solely through increased program efficiency. The magnitude of the cuts would force states to cut the number of people covered, eliminate services from coverage, cut payments to providers, or a combination of these approaches. The result would be a reduction in the long-term services and supports at a time when the elder population is growing rapidly.

Senate Confirms Verma as CMS Administrator

The U.S. Senate voted on March 13 to confirm Seema Verma to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Verma has substantial experience as a consultant to states on the Medicaid program, and we look forward to working with her.

We also have contacted her requesting a discussion of our concerns about the final rule on the requirements of participation in Medicare and Medicaid for nursing homes and about the dramatic increase in serious penalties imposed on nursing homes under the survey system.