Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in response to the release of Gov. Robert Bentley’s letter to U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy on suggested changes to the Affordable Care Act:
“We’re glad the governor recognizes the importance of not repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, and we’re glad he urged Congress to protect funding for Medicaid and ALL Kids. But it was deeply disturbing to see him raise the prospects of allowing ‘a waiting period for pre-existing conditions’ and giving states more power to ‘reduce Medicaid benefits or enrollment.’
“Alabama Medicaid already has one of the lowest income eligibility limits and one of the most limited benefit packages in the country. Slashing our state’s barebones Medicaid program even more deeply would hurt hundreds of thousands of children, seniors, and people with disabilities who live in poverty, and it would do nothing to make our state healthier or more prosperous. Neither would returning to the bad old days of allowing discrimination against people with health conditions like cancer or diabetes.
“The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of people and saved thousands of lives across Alabama. Nearly 200,000 Alabamians have signed up for insurance through the ACA. More than 2 million Alabamians have pre-existing conditions that would have made it hard or impossible for them to get full coverage before the ACA lifted coverage caps and guaranteed their access to insurance. And the ACA has significantly reduced the number of uninsured young Alabamians by allowing 35,000 of them to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26.
“The stakes are too high for Alabamians to stay silent. We urge Alabamians to continue pressuring their members of Congress to protect Medicaid and not to repeal the Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement that offers comparable coverage and consumer protections.”