Passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives

The American Health Care Act adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives would have a devastating impact on Virginians if it becomes law.

With no independent analysis of the most recent version, the House rushed this through without a full idea of its cost or how many people will now lose coverage. But with many of the provisions of the first version still intact, we know that the cost of Marketplace insurance will increase to unaffordable levels, especially for older Virginians. We also know that the bill still decimates Medicaid, cutting more than $800 billion over 10 years. Altogether, it will result in at least 341,800 more uninsured Virginians within a decade.

It will put many of our most vulnerable residents at risk, including children, people with disabilities and pregnant women. And it places a cap on federal funding for Medicaid, blowing a hole in state budgets and leaving state and local taxpayers to foot the bill. This arbitrary cap on Medicaid will put 1 million people on Medicaid in Virginia in harm’s way.

In addition, Virginia now stands to be punished further for its fiscally irresponsible decision not to expand Medicaid and pull down the available federal dollars to bring health care to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians. Not only will those without insurance continue to suffer, the state will see its block grant or per-capita cap dollar amount set at the level of current enrollment, which is a reflection of Virginia’s parsimonious approach to health care rather than to the real needs of the state’s residents.

This measure also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, putting people with asthma, diabetes, heart defects and other conditions at risk. The recent addition of $8 billion to fund high-risk pools comes nowhere close to covering the cost of care for people suffering from pre-existing conditions. The bill even turns back the clock to a time when insurers could deny coverage for life-saving treatments by imposing annual and lifetime caps.

It’s now up to our senators — Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — to stand up for Virginia’s children, seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, families and those with pre-existing conditions who will be paying a dangerous price if this ill-conceived bill becomes law.