People suffering from multiple sclerosis, lupus, heart defects, or a host of other pre-existing health problems might be kicked off their insurance if the new health care bill passes, according to the Utah Health Policy Project.
The American Health Care Act—billed as an Obamacare replacement—was squeaked through the House of Representatives on Thursday by a 217 to 213 vote.
Jason Stevenson, UHPP communications director, says the bill will reinstate the practice of allowing insurance companies to discriminate coverage based on pre-existing conditions, thereby undoing one of the pillars of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“There are so many layers to the AHCA,” Stevenson says. “On one level, it cuts essential health benefits. It does devastating cuts to Medicaid.” Critics say the money pulled from Medicaid will be given back to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts.
The bill also proposes to change the tax credit system from being based off income and family size to age. “It really hurts younger folks,” Stevenson says.
UHPP is part of a coalition that is organizing a Salt Lake City rally at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (tonight) at the Wallace Bennett Federal Building at 125 South State St.
The purpose, Stevenson says, is to explain how the bill—which the House passed without hearing a Congressional Budget Office rating or witness testimony—would affect Utahns.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is calling on residents to contact Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, urging them to oppose the bill. Biskupski released a statement expressing concern for the “life and death consequences our residents could face as a result of this vote.”
“The bill as passed leaves great gaps in healthcare coverage, especially to seniors, low-income families, and those most in need,” she continued. “This comes at a time when the City, County, and State are engaged in a critical collaboration to address homelessness, including some of its underlying causes—most notably, mental health and substance abuse.”