Press Statement: New Congressional Health Care Plan Hurts Even More Montanans

May 04, 2017

New Congressional Health Care Plan Hurts Even More Montanans Montanans Call on Senate to Reject Amended House Plan that Raises Costs and Guts Protections for Pre-existing Conditions  Helena, MT – Montana advocates for affordable healthcare are calling on Senators Tester and Daines to stand up against the latest version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which repeals the Affordable Care Act and puts in place a new bill that will result in millions of people losing coverage and decimates our nation’s healthcare system. “The bill passed by the US House of Representatives is even worse for Montanans and our state than the bill presented earlier this year, putting at risk the health care coverage of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who have pre-existing conditions, as well as, seniors, people with disabilities, and children and families that are on Montana’s Medicaid program,” says Heather O’Loughlin, co-director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center. “AHCA represents a dramatic and unprecedented cut to Medicaid and is not a solution that will work for Montana.” The bill passed by the House of Representatives today is even worse than the bill presented in March, as GOP leaders moved further to the “right” to obtain the necessary votes. This bill, as passed by the House, will continue to: Instead of fixing these problems, the new version of AHCA is worse, putting at risk coverage for hundreds of thousands of Montanans who have a pre-existing condition. States would receive almost automatic approval to waive the ACA’s “community rating” requirements by creating or participating in a high-risk pool. This means individuals who face a pre-existing condition, like cancer, heart disease, or even pregnancy, would likely see premiums so high that it would be unaffordable. States will also be allowed to waive the ACA’s “Essential Health Benefits” requirement by simply attesting – without cited evidence - that their purpose is to lower costs and improve coverage levels. Therefore, it is likely we return to a state where women will be charged more than men for insurance, and plans will once again come with annual and lifetime limits on coverage. Evidence has shown high-risk pools don’t work. It is likely that one out of every ten Montanans would lose coverage due to their pre-existing conditions. "This proposal takes a bad bill and makes it worse,” said Sarah Howell, Executive Director, Montana Women Vote. “We cannot go back to the days where individuals were being denied coverage or forced into high risk pools that were outrageously expensive and covered very little." “This plan effectively ends the bi-partisan Medicaid expansion passed in Montana,” said Jacquie Helt, Montana State Director of SEIU 775. “The 71,000 Montanans who waited for coverage will have the rug pulled out from under them. This doesn't just hurt workers, it also hurts rural hospitals.”   ###
Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.