The Student Assembly is excited to announce our National Student Meeting in conjunction with the 2017 APHA Annual Meeting! Our theme this year is “From the Ground Up: Ensuring the Right to National Health Equity.” Be on the look out for more information coming soon on speakers, presentations, and giveaways! Let us know your excitement using the social media hashtags #FTGU17 and #APHA17! Want to attend but feeling pinched by a student budget? Apply for the student scholarship by July 9! More details can be found on this application link, and further questions can be directed to Student Assembly Chair Rachael Mitchell.
We look forward to seeing you at #APHA17 and #FTGU17! Register here!
HEALTH CARE POLICY UPDATE
The Senate is closing in on a health care bill that could affect coverage for tens of millions of Americans. They hope to vote on the bill before leaving for recess on June 30! This bill is being drafted by a small working group of 13 senators behind closed doors without hearings from experts, public input from patients or healthcare leaders, or the opportunity for amendments. The bill is anticipated to remove funding from Medicaid and eliminate insurance coverage for millions of people currently insured under the Affordable Care Act.
So how can students take action?
- Call your senators and urge them to oppose efforts to repeal the ACA by dialing the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, introduce yourself as a constituent and public health professional, and use these talking points.
- Send an email using APHA’s Action Alert.
- If you're on Twitter, tweet a message to your member of Congress.
- Encourage your personal and social networks to take action!
We are the future of public health! Our action makes a difference!
THE BETTER CARE RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2017
President Trump and the Republican Congress have vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, making it one of their top agenda priorities. On May 4, 2017, this was evident when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which is the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the ACA.1
There have been different versions of the proposed bill made publicly available.2 The most recent version, which was unveiled June 22, 2017 in the Senate and titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, has left many concerned and opposed to its provisions.3 The proposed bill would end subsidies for out-of-pocket costs, individual mandates, employer mandates, and taxes created under the ACA.4 Pre-existing conditions policy and dependent coverage until the age of 26 would remain unchanged.
However, major changes would occur for the rest of the provisions in the ACA. The proposed BCRA would impose a waiting period penalty of 6 months for people whose insurance coverage has lapsed.2 The bill would sharply curtail Medicaid expansion and spending per enrollee.4 Tax credits for premiums would change by changing the formula and thereby lowering the threshold for people who can receive financial assistance. States can also apply to waive essential health benefits such as maternity care, substance use or addiction treatment, and mental health care.
In addition, states have the option of waiving annual and lifetime limits. Insurers can charge older customers five times as much as younger ones and higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, people can put more money into their health savings account with their spouse able to make additional contributions.
If enacted, it is estimated that approximately 22 million more people could be left uninsured by 2026 compared to the bill that was passed in the House on May 4, 2017.5 Premiums and out-of-pocket costs would increase for those with low income and older. Millions more could be left without essential health services afforded to them through their insurance plans.4 The economic hardships would be seen in the estimated 1.45 million jobs lost due to declining health.6
The American Association of Retired Persons, the American Hospital Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and some members of the Republican party have aired their misgivings with the bill.3 Former President Barack Obama commented that it’s a bill that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Even President Trump called the proposed bill "mean."
APHA has taken a stand against the bill. As students dedicated to public health, we understand the value of advocacy. The proposed bill must still be passed in the Senate. The decision has been made to delay the vote on the bill for now.7 The BCRA would be deleterious to our nation’s health if it was to be enacted as it were. Please contact your Senator today to voice your concerns.
- Kaiser Family Foundation. ACA’s Future. [date unknown] – [cited 2017 June 23]. Available from: http://www.kff.org/tag/aca-future/
- Kaiser Family Foundation. Compare Proposals to Replace the Affordable Care Act. [date unknown] – [cited 2017 June 23]. Available from: http://www.kff.org/interactive/proposals-to-replace-the-affordable-care-act/
- Pear R, Kaplan T. Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid. 2017 June 22 [cited 2017 June 24]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/us/politics/senate-health-care-bill.html
- Park H, Sanger-Katz M. How Senate Republicans Plan to Dismantle Obamacare. 2017 June 22 [cited 2017 June 24]. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/22/us/100000005165265.mobile.html
- Congressional Budget Office. H.R. 1628, Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. 2017 June 26 [cited 2017 July 8]. Available from: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52849
- The Commonwealth Fund. The Better Care Reconciliation Act: Economic and Employment Consequences for States. 2017 July 6 [cited 2017 July 11]. Available from: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2017/jul/bcra-economic-employment-consequences-states
- Sullivan S, Snell K, Eilperin J. Trump, Senate leaders attempt to regroup after postponing vote to overhaul Obamacare. 2017 June 2017 [cited 2017 July 8]. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-republicans-scramble-to-keep-alive-plans-to-overhaul-obamacare/2017/06/27/c8ea4c02-5b37-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.291bc6b6278a