WNPR

Connecticut's Governor, Advocates React To Republican Health Care Bill

May 8, 2017

House Republicans in Washington have passed a law to undo the Affordable Care Act -- the signature legislation of President Barack Obama. But Connecticut officials and some health care advocates have not responded favorably. 

All of the state's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the bill, and both senators oppose it. It's unclear what will happen to the bill once it gets to the Senate, but as it stands now, Gov. Dannel Malloy said it would decimate health care in the state. He spoke on Friday on MSNBC.

"What this is is a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of Americans who are part of that 24 million people who will lose coverage," Malloy said.

That 24 million figure comes from an earlier congressional review; analysts have not yet weighed in on the current measure.

There are various reasons. Here are two big ones. First, the bill would drastically reduce federal subsidies for individual health insurance; second, it would significantly cut funding for Medicaid, which provides health insurance to the poor. States get more than 90 percent of the cost reimbursed for Medicaid enrollees who joined because of the Affordable Care Act. Should this bill remain unchanged, that reimbursement number could be cut in half.

"They cut the 90 percent reimbursement after 2019 to a 50 percent reimbursement. In fairly short order, this will cost Connecticut about a billion dollars or more a year if we're going to maintain coverage," Malloy said. "And that’s conservative."

According to the state, more than 300,000 residents got new health care coverage this year as a result of Obamacare. Two-thirds of them are on Medicaid.

Sheldon Toubman is a staff attorney at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association who is an advocate for Medicaid and the poor. He said this plan could be devastating.

"This is a sad week for anybody who cares about low-income individuals needing access to essential health services, particularly under the Medicaid program," Toubman said, adding that the Republican plan would leave no options other than cutting benefits, eligibility, and provider rates.

"Although this is dressed up as health care, it's really just a bill to provide a massive tax cut to rich Americans and some corporations at the expense of the poor and the sick," he said.

The bill would remove some of the taxes implemented under Obamacare -- including one on affluent Americans. Those add up to hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Connecticut Hospital Association also expressed opposition, saying the bill would remove protections for older and sicker patients, as well as for those with pre-existing conditions. The association is calling on the Senate to reject the bill.