Making Sense of Federal HealthCare Reform

UPDATE: Medicaid Home And Community-Based Services Face New Threat

September 20, 2017

As we have all year, Autism New Jersey continues to monitor the U.S. Congress’ attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With the budget reconciliation bill set to expire on Sept. 30th, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have drafted the latest Republican attempt to repeal the ACA and are looking to bring this latest proposal to a vote during the last week of September. As was the case with the two previous proposals, the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill ends Medicaid as an open ended entitlement and turns it into a capped program which would significantly impact funding for individuals with disabilities. Autism New Jersey will continue to monitor this bill’s progress and provide updates as necessary.

For more information and ways to take action, see the latest article from Disability Scoop

UPDATE:   Healthcare reform fails to pass Senate; Advocacy work continues

July 31, 2017

With the Senate's inability to pass legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, the legislation remains in effect, avoiding potentially devastating cuts to Medicaid. Nevertheless, Federal Medicaid and healthcare policy continue to have an effect on State funding and services.  We remain vigilant in monitoring regulations and future proposed legislation that would have an effect on New Jersey's autism community. 

UPDATE:   Senate version of healthcare bill released; includes devastaing cuts to Medicaid

June 22, 2017

All eyes return to Washington as the Senate released its version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which includes potentially devastating cuts to Medicaid.  

The substantial cuts to Medicaid being considered would be devastating to children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities in New Jersey who rely on this funding for essential, medically necessary treatment and services.  With the highest rates of autism in the nation, the impact of such cuts in New Jersey would be seismic.  The progress we've seen that allows access to essential healthcare and behavioral treatment for individuals with autism would be upended, with a ripple effect that would crush families.  Consider the impact:

  • With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), New Jersey was able to enroll in the Medicaid expansion option and subsequently increased their Medicaid enrollment by over 500,000 dependents and $3 billion in Medicaid spending.  A repeal of the ACA would remove the Medicaid expansion and 33% of current dependents in New Jersey would lose their coverage. 

  • While people with disabilities only represent 15% of total Medicaid enrollees, they account for 42% of Medicaid spending due to their greater health needs and more intensive service use.  Current Medicaid spending per enrollee for nonelderly individuals with disabilities on average is $16,643/year (federal) and $19,951/year (New Jersey), up to seven times higher than spending for other groups. 

  • Many of the Medicaid programs that benefit individuals with disabilities, HCBS as an example, are provided through optional waivers.  The optional nature of these programs along with their high costs could put them at risk for cuts if states have to begin looking at ways to curtail spending.  

*Data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation

Learn more:  Medicaid Restructuring Under the American Health Care Act and Children with Special Health Care Needs  (Kaiser Family Foundation) 

What can you do?

While New Jersey's Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker have strongly voiced their opposition to this bill, we encourage our members and stakeholders to stay informed about the issue.  Consider asking your relatives and neighbors in other states to reach out to their representatives to express their concern over the nationwide impact this will have on individuals with autism and their families.  

The Arc offers useful tools to do so. 

We’ll keep you updated on this critical, evolving advocacy issue.  


UPDATE:  House approves Obamacare repeal bill -- Moves on to Senate

May 4, 2017; 02:45pm

House approves Obamacare repeal bill  (POLITICO)