The American Health Care Act (AHCA) failed to garner sufficient votes to pass the House of Representatives on March 24, 2017 and Speaker Paul Ryan pulled it from the floor. To all our state associations who advocated and pushed ANCOR’s SOS messages out to their members – a huge thank you! The AHCA could have had devastating consequences for people with disabilities and the community organizations supporting them their families. ANCOR members managed to send over 10,000 messages to Congress in the last couple of weeks explaining our concern over the bill which is absolutely amazing!
State Associations helped the lift tremendously by forwarding our SOS messages to all of your members and your members to the folks they support and their families. We played a role in the two weeks leading up to the abandonment of the AHCA. Our voices were heard!
In the debate of the AHCA, we heard passionate pleas from both parties on the floor of the House. What was missing, what we didn’t hear – was any substantive discussion about the impact of this proposed legislation on people with disabilities. Long term services and supports (LTSS – what WE do) were never mentioned! Nearly $72 billion of public funding (state and federal) goes into the IDD system across the US today and no one seemed to think it was a critical element of debate.
Do we really want to go back to a time when states could decide on their own how much they value people with IDD? Do we really want to go back to a time without standards of any kind? Few of us can say things were better 50 years ago for people with disabilities.
At the same time, Congress stepping away from the America Health Care Act does not signal victory. We may have accomplished a brief stay, but there is still much to be done. We can expect the administration to move forward with multiple efforts to reform the way we deliver and pay for supports for people with disabilities. We need to be a part of that discussion to make certain there is deliberation about the best way to protect and enhance supports for people with disabilities. We must remember ours is a bi-partisan cause, and over the years, our advocacy has matured into a strong and vibrant energy to be reckoned with.
As legislative sessions wind down in some states, think about ways to increase our visibility among our federal representatives in Congress. Take your stories, photos, and DATA demonstrating how our work lowers health care costs, creates employment opportunities and provides stability to a people with disabilities and their families to your Congressional District Offices and staff. Continue your efforts to educate Washington. Be the light that shows them there is much much more to Medicaid than acute and primary care.
During the debate on the House floor in March I only heard one representative mention people with developmental disabilities in the record. One. Let’s make it hundreds. Let’s set our goal to make sure every Congressperson knows people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to live and work in their districts. Let’s make certain they understand the number of our DSPs who rely on the ACA for health insurance because our agencies do not have the revenue to pay for it. Let’s make certain they understand, whatever they do to reform Medicaid, they must commit to keeping people with disabilities, and the people and programs supporting them in their deliberations.
We have always faced uncertain times over the years. And we have always organized and advocated. And we will do so again, under ANCOR’s banner…
Diane McComb is ANCOR’s Liaison with State Associations around the country and may be reached at [email protected].