The American Health Care Act (AHCA), introduced by House Republicans this week, threatens to undo much of the progress that’s been made to extend healthcare coverage, improve quality of care, and invest in prevention and public health over the past seven years.
The proposed changes to healthcare coverage are dramatic and alarming, and will put the most vulnerable members of our society at greatest risk. The bill would leave many Americans unable to afford healthcare coverage, degrade the quality of healthcare plans, and phase out the Medicaid expansion. The bill would fundamentally reshape Medicaid, resulting in deep cuts to coverage and services to a program that currently covers 74 million low-income and disabled Americans. It would also “defund” Planned Parenthood for one year, shutting down access to basic healthcare services for millions.
Now is the time to expand -- not revoke – access; reward quality care and prevention; and enable healthcare to be more responsive to the conditions that shape health, safety, and equity in the first place. At a time when more hospitals and health systems are moving upstream and investing in community prevention, the proposed bill shifts the focus back to preventable “sick” care and creates additional burdens by increasing the ranks of the uninsured.
The bill would also eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, slashing more than one-tenth of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget. States stand to lose over $3 billion in funds they rely on to prevent chronic disease, halt the spread of infections, and invest in community resources that support healthier lives. Investing in prevention and public health saves lives – and holds the promise of a healthier future for all. Quality community-based prevention strategies demonstrate a 5:1 return on investment – preventing illnesses and injuries, supporting a healthy workforce, reducing the demand for healthcare services -- and these savings need to be preserved and reinvested over time back into communities in order to bend the cost curve.
The American Health Care Act is unacceptable and violates core American values of fairness and opportunity. Prevention Institute strongly opposes the American Health Care Act and any future proposals that eliminate investments in prevention and public health and cut healthcare coverage, access, and services.
We add our voices to the diverse coalition of organizations and legislators –including the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest hospital groups, the AARP, the California like the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, and many others – that are working tirelessly to protect and expand coverage while insisting on the right of all people to live in healthy and safe communities.
We urge you to call your Congressional representatives to voice opposition to the AHCA, and to any future efforts to defund investments in prevention and public health.