Rural Communities Lose Most With Health Repeal

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Rural Communities Lose Most With Health Repeal

The repeal bill passed by the Republican-controlled House will push 23 million people off their coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Pre-existing condition protections will be tossed out the window, too. (Photo: LaDawna Howard/flickr/cc)

The GOP health bill won’t just roll back Obamacare – it will end Medicaid as we know it.

For thirty years, I’ve helped people fight for health care. In one of my proudest moments, I worked with people in small towns across Idaho to expand Medicaid for children. So I’ve seen what people can accomplish when we demand that elected representatives do the right thing.

Together, we can save lives.

We need to show that power now more than ever, as Congress considers legislation that would strip coverage from millions of people. Those of us who live in small towns and rural communities have the most to lose — and the greatest reason to fight.

The repeal bill passed by the House will push 23 million people off their coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Pre-existing condition protections will be tossed out the window, too.

This health repeal isn’t just about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It also rips the entire Medicaid program to shreds.

The House bill cuts Medicaid by $834 billion over the next decade, just to shovel more tax giveaways to corporations and the ultra-rich. That’s going to hit rural communities and small towns especially hard.

Medicaid goes by lots of different names. In your state, it might be called Apple Health (in Washington State), SoonerCare (in Oklahoma), or Healthy Louisiana — or just plain Medicaid or Medical Assistance.

No matter what the program is called where you live, if you’re enrolled in Medicaid, your health care is at risk.

And even if you don’t use Medicaid, taking it away from 14 million people, as this bill will do, is going to devastate small communities, where Medicaid is a lifeline for rural health facilities and a source of good jobs. Rationing it will throw rural hospitals and nursing homes into a financial tailspin.

It will toss kids and their parents off coverage. It will pull the rug out from seniors and people with disabilities who live independently thanks to Medicaid. It will take dollars from the Indian Health Service when IHS is already woefully underfunded.

The politicians who support the Republican health care repeal know that many of us are outraged, so they’re swearing up and down that it won’t hurt ordinary people at all. That’s a lie, plain and simple.

The truth is that they want to ration our Medicaid to funnel more than $600 billion in tax giveaways to corporations and the ultra-rich, as the Joint Committee on Taxation makes clear.

The truth is that they want to destroy Medicaid — not just its expansion under the Affordable Care Act, but the whole Medicaid program that’s been in place since 1965. By capping its funding, they will end the federal government’s guarantee of funding our care according to how much we need and use.

The truth is that protections for pre-existing conditions will go right out the window in many states. An older person with limited income could see premiums go up by 850 percent.

The truth is that the vast majority of people support Medicaid. The program matters to people across the political spectrum, with 51 percent of President Trump’s supporters saying it’s important to them and their families, according to a Kaiser tracking poll.

The truth is that cuts to Medicaid are also deeply unpopular across the political spectrum. Almost three quarters of voters (74 percent, Quinnipiac reports) oppose cuts to Medicaid, including more than half of Republicans.

No wonder thousands of people are now calling their senators to tell them they know the truth about Medicaid and health care repeal — and they aren’t going to stand for Congress cutting the program, capping it, or taking health care away from a single person in their communities.

LeeAnn Hall

LeeAnn Hall

LeeAnn Hall is co-executive director of People's Action and People's Action Institute, a national organization of a million people in 30 states fighting for economic, environmental, racial, and gender justice.

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