On Tuesday, Senate Republicans voted to start debate on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. After failing to pass the latest version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act on Tuesday night, the Senate continues to debate and vote on amendments to the bill. One aspect of the bill would be to cap the federal portion of Medicaid. Medicaid is a federal/state program that provides medical coverage for the poor and individuals with disabilities. From its inception in the 1960s, the federal government has paid a specified percentage of a state’s Medicaid expenses. The percentage varies by state depending on the wealth of the State. Never before has the federal government capped its portion of Medicaid costs. As costs have increased, the federal government has always picked up its designated percentage of the increase in costs.
The current version of the bill seeks to cap the federal portion of Medicaid at each state’s current per capita Medicaid expenditure. In addition, the federal portion of Medicaid would increase by the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index. Historically, the per capita cost of Medicaid has increased at a faster rate than the consumer price index.
The Effect of a Medicaid Cap on Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Capping the federal portion of Medicaid will have a serious detrimental effect on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Individuals with intellectual disabilities have a wide range of disabilities, from autism to down syndrome to cerebral palsy. The common feature is that individuals with intellectual disabilities do not function at an adult level. Many function between three and five years of age and are in need of 24 hour care. For these individuals, Medicaid is the only option available to them to cover the cost of the intensive 24 hour care they need. Most individuals with intellectual disabilities will never have full-time employment, will never receive health insurance coverage through a job, and do not have income sufficient to purchase private health insurance. They are totally reliant on Medicaid.
In addition, the portion of the cost of meeting the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities that will be picked up by the federal government will shrink. Costs will continue to increase, but the inflation factor in the proposed bill will not keep up with those increases. The costs will not go away. They simply will be shifted to the states or to the individuals. Neither can afford to pick up the portion that the federal government will no longer cover. In many states, services for individuals with intellectual disabilities are already under funded. These individuals are not receiving the services they need to increase their independence and maintain their health. Many individuals will have to wait even longer to access home and community-based services. Capping the federal portion of Medicaid and thereby reducing the federal payments, will make this under-funding even worse. These most vulnerable members of our society have nowhere else to turn to receive the services they need.
Call to Action
We are asking our families and friends to contact their Senators as soon as possible to ask them to vote AGAINST any bill that proposes to cap Medicaid.
Here is a proposed message.
“My [son, daughter, sister, brother] is developmentally disabled. The Medicaid cap on the federal funding of Medicaid that is proposed in the Better Care Reconciliation Act, will have a devastating effect on [him, her, us]. We respectfully request that Senator _______________ vote AGAINST any bill that proposes to cap the federal portion of Medicaid. Alternatively, we respectfully request that Senator ___________ insist that any bill that proposes to cap the federal portion of Medicaid, EXCLUDE from that cap, Medicaid payments for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The federal portion of Medicaid should remain uncapped for such individuals.”
Dial the Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121 OR click HERE to find your senator’s contact information.
Step-by-step guide on how to use Resistbot
This Tool is for Smart Phones (e.g., iPhone, Android, etc.)
If you have used the Resistbot tool before, text “Start” to 50409 to reactivate your account. If you have not used the Resistbot tool before Text “Resist” to 50409
If you have not used Resistbot before, you will be prompted to text your name and your zip code. This will allow the program to identify your Senators and Congressman
You will then be prompted to enter your message. Here is the message we propose you send: “My [son, daughter, sister, brother], [name of resident], is developmentally disabled and [his, her] services are funded by Medicaid. The cap on the federal funding of Medicaid that is proposed in the Better Care Reconciliation Act, will have a devastating effect on [name]. I am asking you to please vote AGAINST the American Health Care Act so that my [son, daughter, sister, brother] can continue to receive the care [he, she] needs. Alternatively, we respectfully request that Senator ___________ insist that any bill that proposes to cap the federal portion of Medicaid, EXCLUDE from that cap, Medicaid payments for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The federal portion of Medicaid should remain uncapped for such individuals.”
When you are done, the tool will prepare a letter to your Senators and it will ask you to confirm the message you want to send.
After you confirm your message, you will receive a confirmation that a fax of your letter has been sent.
This tool contacts your senators first and the next day it will ask you to repeat your message for your congressman. Because the upcoming vote is only in the Senate, you do not need to contact your congressman at this time.
When you have completed contacting your senators, if you continue to receive text messages from this tool, simply respond “Stop” and you will no longer receive texts.
Also, please forward this message to family and friends across the country.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.
Chairman, Together for Choice