The following is a statement from the American Occupational Therapy Association. While ALOTA works to support access to essential healthcare and occupational therapy services, it is your voice that is needed to protect healthcare services in the State of Alabama.
Contact Senators Shelby and Strange today!
On Thursday June 22, the United States Senate released a discussion draft of their health care reform bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA). While much of the healthcare reform discussion has been about fixing or repealing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the major provisions of the bill released yesterday relate to Medicaid. After careful analysis, AOTA is deeply concerned that BCRA would undermine the Medicaid program and put the millions of children and adults with serious disabilities, students receiving special education support services, people receiving home and community based services, individuals with mental health needs, those in nursing homes, and many others at grave risk of reduced or lost benefits.
BCRA would change Medicaid from a system where the federal government “matches” payments for all medically necessary services a state chooses to provide to beneficiaries, to one that provides states with a capped amount of money to spend for all beneficiaries. This will require hard choices by the states and inevitable cuts to Medicaid programs and services. Over time, the Federal government will pay less and less for Medicaid services and State Medicaid programs will have to make up the difference, or diminish services. As states are faced with difficult financial decisions they will have to reduce benefits such as rehabilitation benefits for adults and home and community based services, reduce reimbursement to providers, or find ways decrease or slow Medicaid enrollment. States may eventually be pressured to reduce services to children from the current broad mandate of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment services (EPSDT) which protects all children on Medicaid.
From early intervention and schools, to skilled nursing facilities, to community mental health programs these proposed changes will negatively affect occupational therapy practitioners and the people who are in need of our services. We urge you to call your Senate offices today (yes, even on the weekend!) and ask that they reject these dramatic changes to Medicaid.
AOTA’s legislative action center will walk you through the steps. You can call or write, but you need to take action before next week’s vote.
Please check back next week for AOTA’s analysis of the Senate bill. Until then we recommend this detailed analysis by the experts at the non-partisan Health Affairs Blog.