The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) condemns today’s vote by the House of Representatives to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA, if passed by the Senate, would slash Medicaid supports for Autistic adults and others with disabilities. It would also make health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans with pre-existing health conditions, including autism.
No amount of backroom wheeling and dealing has changed the fact that, like earlier versions, this version of the AHCA would eliminate the federal government’s commitment to pay its fair share of the costs of the Medicaid program. This would lead to $880 billion less in federal funding for Medicaid programs over the next ten years. 10 million Americans with disabilities, including autistic children and adults, depend on Medicaid for basic health coverage. Medicaid also provides in-home supports to millions of Americans with disabilities who would otherwise be forced to move to an institution. These devastating cuts to Medicaid mean that states will be forced to slash Medicaid coverage, especially coverage for the long-term services and supports that allow us to remain in the community.
The AHCA would also allow health insurance companies to impose dramatic price hikes for people with pre-existing conditions, such as autism and other diagnoses associated with autism like psychiatric disabilities and epilepsy. States could also chose to let insurers charge more for or stop covering essential health benefits, like emergency room coverage, preventative care, or speech and occupational therapy–services people with disabilities depend on to live good lives. Those who cannot afford these increased premiums will be forced into separate “high-risk pools,” even though high risk pools have never been able to provide adequate coverage at affordable rates for people with disabilities. This bill will devastate millions of Americans, including the disability community and including autistic people across the country. It must be stopped.
There is no way to “fix” these fundamental problems with the AHCA. As ASAN has long said, any replacement to the Affordable Care Act must increase access to health care–not take away coverage for 24 million people, strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and destroy Medicaid. We therefore urge the Senate to reject the AHCA and work with advocates on a real plan to improve our health care system.
For more information, please contact ASAN’s Executive Director, Julia Bascom, at email@example.com.