Ahead of the U.S. House vote to pass legislation to replace Obamacare, wheelchair-using advocates condemned the GOP health care proposal at the state Capitol on Wednesday in front of Gov. Greg Abbott’s public reception room.
Activists from ADAPT of Texas, which aims to provide affordable housing, transportation and public accommodations to people with disabilities, demanded Abbott tell the Texas congressional delegation that the American Health Care Act, the new bill pushed by the Trump administration, will harm all Texans who need and use health care.
A vote on the AHCA could come as early as Thursday.
Among the group’s main concerns are block grants or per capita caps that would be implemented under the new legislation.
Under these two options for states, Congress would predetermine the amount of money that each state receives, basing the cap on historic Medicaid enrollment and spending. Per capita caps provide states with a set amount of funding per beneficiary, and if costs exceed the per capita cap, the state would have to pay for them or individuals would have to forgo needed care, advocates said.
“AHCA breaks the relationship between federal and state government in the provision of insurance of long-term services and supports,” said Bob Kafka, ADAPT of Texas community organizer. “The people most affected are low-income people receiving insurance under Obamacare. The most vulnerable folks are low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities of all incomes.”
Nationally, Kafka said, Medicaid would lose more than $370 billion if AHCA is passed and that the proposal would result in a massive loss of health care jobs.
According to a study by Manatt Health for the Texas Alliance for Health Care, Texas would likely take a worse hit than other states under block grants since it did not expand Medicaid to cover parents with incomes below 15 percent of the federal poverty level and childless adults. Since Texas spends less per beneficiary compared with other states, Congress would give the state a smaller share of health care funding.
Aside from AHCA, Kafka said the Senate Finance Committee’s two-year budget proposal, unanimously approved Wednesday, would give no increase in salaries — which can be as low as $8 per hour — for community attendants who help people with disabilities bathe, dress and eat. It also would not do anything to end the waiting lists for people that need community services, he said.
Stephanie Thomas, another ADAPT of Texas community organizer, said there is a shortage of attendants now and that no increase in salaries could lead to abuse and neglect in a growing disabled population.
“There’s money in the Rainy Day Fund that could be used, but they don’t want to use it,” Thomas said. “It’s very disturbing to see this and to know that the state is going along with cuts.”
This story was published in the San Antonio Express-News March 22, 2017.