How Kentucky's advocacy groups are reacting to U.S. House passage of AHCA

05/05/2017 02:51 PM

After seven years of talk Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly moved replacement health care legislation out of the chamber on Thursday and the move has advocacy groups in Kentucky watching closely and calling on Senators in the upper chamber.

Multiple groups which track everything from the economy to the well-being of youth in the state issued statements, and some called on federal partners to protect the interest of Kentuckians on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Terry Brooks with Kentucky Youth Advocates put Thursday’s vote in horse racing terms, saying the “health of Kentucky’s kids became as risky as a bet on the Derby with the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House.”

Brooks said the advocacy group does see some positives in their health care bill such as the commitment to continue coverage for young adults until the age of 26. Keeping coverage to the age of 26 is “especially crucial,” Brooks said for youth aging out of foster care. Kentucky Youth Advocates also lauded the House’s continued commitment to pre-existing conditions, but did express “strong concerns” that health coverage may be priced out of reach for those who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Brooks did say that the actions of the House on Thursday put kids at risk.

“When you fail to guarantee essential services and rollback Medicaid, you fail to guarantee health,” Brooks said. “That means best practices like preventive measures including vision screening and well-child checks; pediatric oral health care coverage; behavioral health treatment; threats to maternity care, which is the first step in children’s healthcare become long-shot ideas for kids. These are the common sense elements of a good health care system and we cannot afford to make them “iffy propositions.”

Pointing to silver linings, Brooks said that KYA is “counting on Kentucky’s own Mitch McConnell to apply his well-established voice for kids to fill those gaps.”

“Secondly, this legislation – and realistically whatever becomes the end product – will give states unprecedented flexibility in the healthcare arena,” Brooks continued. “That means Governor Bevin can deliver for Kentucky’s kids by building a focused and astute best practice model for the Commonwealth’s children.”

Meanwhile, Jason Bailey the executive director for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy also called on McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul to defend the well-being of Kentuckians.

“The responsibility lies with Senators McConnell and Paul to stop the bill and instead work to strengthen the historic health care progress Kentucky has made,” Bailey said Thursday.

Bailey said that Kentucky has gained more economically than any other state in the nation from the Affordable Care Act; adding the replacement legislation known as the American Health Care Act would be a “monumental step backwards.”

InsureKY, the statewide coalition of nonprofits formed to promote more affordable health insurance and better care also weighed in on the passage of the bill predicting poor health outcomes if passed by the Senate and signed into law.

“The AHCA threatens healthcare for all of us,” said Emily Beauregard, the executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health – the nonprofit organization coordinating the InsureKY campaign. “In its latest form, this bill no longer guarantees basic coverage for any Kentuckian or life-saving protections for more than 1.8 million Kentuckians with pre-existing conditions. If this bill becomes a law, it will strip insurance coverage from hundreds-of-thousands of hard-working families here in Kentucky and drive up premiums for thousands more, making access to care completely out-of-reach.”

Rich Seckel, the director of the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, said the bill did not live up to promises heard on the campaign trail to make health care better and more affordable.

“The AHCA does not do that for the vast majority of Kentuckians,” Seckel said. “We urge Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to scrap this ill-conceived bill and begin working with their colleagues in the world’s greatest deliberative body to find a better plan that ensures more affordable coverage, better benefits, and stronger protections for all Kentuckians.”

The Senate is expected to wait for scoring from the Congressional Budget Office before making hearing the bill in the upper chamber.


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