U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati.

A report in The Hill Thursday indicated that Ohio’s junior U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has indicated to his colleagues he will support a seven-year phase out of the Medicaid expansion that has brought health insurance to 682,000 Ohioans who could not previously afford it under the Affordable Care Act.

From The Hill:

(U.S.) Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, a key GOP senator on healthcare who is up for reelection next year, said Thursday that he supports a seven-year phase-out of funding for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid.

“I support seven, I support seven,” Heller told reporters on his way into a healthcare working group meeting in the Capitol. “So do a number of us, including [Sen. Rob] Portman [R-Ohio] and others who have been working on this.”

[…]

The proposal from Portman and others is to gradually phase down the federal funding for Medicaid expansion over a seven-year period from 2020 to 2027.

Well, Mr. Senator, as long as your wanton cruelty is spread out over seven years maybe nobody will notice? Sadly, this is not surprising. When push comes to shove, Portman can always be relied upon to tow the line and carry the water for the forces in American political life that simply do not care about the lives of those struggling every day to make ends meet.

The consequences of this callous move would be devastating in Ohio, as was laid out in a press release from the Alliance for Health Care Security that noted if repeal of Medicaid expansion passes, it would cost Ohio an additional $1.2 billion to keep those 682,000 people on Medicaid.

“Senator Portman is giving Ohio families a sucker punch in the gut, especially ones who expect him to be a champion in the fight against Ohio’s opioid epidemic,” said AHCS spokesperson Amanda Wurst. “Taking straight from the disastrous House health care repeal, this proposal repeals Medicaid for almost 700,000 Ohioans, putting health care for seniors, people with disabilities, and children at risk. This is a sad and stunning sellout of his Ohio constituents.”

The AHCS also provided the following, startling fact-sheet:

What Happens if Ohio Cuts Medicaid

Millions of People Will Lose Their Coverage and Critical Care

  • The House-passed American Health Care Act results in 24 million people losing health coverage in 2026. What is not as commonly known is that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found 14 million of the 24 million who lose coverage would be as a result of the huge Medicaid cuts.
  • 2.6 Million Ohioans are Enrolled in Medicaid. In Ohio, roughly 2.6 million people have coverage through Medicaid.
  • 682,000 Ohioans Enrolled through Medicaid Expansion At Risk of Losing Coverage. In Ohio, 682,900 residents have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program. The House repeal bill ends the expansion in 2020 putting the coverage for these people in jeopardy.

Seniors, Children and People with Disabilities Would Be Most Impacted

  • 77 million people in America get their health coverage from Medicaid, or roughly 1 in 5 Americans. Breaking those numbers down reveal that the people most at risk of being hurt from the Republican proposal to slash Medicaid and turn it into a “per capita cap,” are the elderly, children, and people with disabilities.
  • Seniors and People With Disabilities Make Up 25 Percent of Medicaid Enrollment but Account for Two-Thirds of Medicaid Spending. Approximately one in four people on Medicaid are seniors (9 percent) or people with disabilities (15 percent). However, they make up about two-thirds of all Medicaid spending. In other words, funding cuts to Medicaid will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.
  • Nearly Half of Medicaid Enrollees are Children. 48 percent of people on Medicaid are children.
  • Special Education Students Would Be At Risk. Medicaid covers school expenses for children with special needs. The New York Times reported that earlier this year, a survey found “nearly 70 percent of districts reported that they used the [Medicaid] money to pay the salaries of health care professionals who serve special education students.”

Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Would be Shifted to the States

  • The House-passed American Health Care Act will result in shifting $370 billion in costs to states, straining state budgets and forcing them to offset the reduction of federal funding by imposing deep cuts in services and care for seniors, children and people with disabilities, raising taxes, or cutting their budgets to other critical programs like education.
  • Ohio Would Be Forced to Offset $22 Billion. In Ohio alone, state lawmakers would have to find ways to offset $22 billion because of the huge cuts to Medicaid in the “American Health Care Act.”

It will be Harder to Combat the Opioid Crisis

  • “Over the next 10 years, AHCA eliminates $880 billion from Medicaid—one of the most important payers of addiction and mental health services in the U.S., and states’ most critical tool to tackle the opioid epidemic. With their Medicaid budgets cut 25% over the next decade, states will be forced to eliminate lifesaving services—at a time when 91 people die each day from an opioid overdose. With these devastating cuts, AHCA obliterates recent gains from last year’s bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.”
  • Ohio Would Be On Its Own to Handle Opioid Crisis. The House repeal bill eliminates the requirement that mental health and addiction services be covered under Medicaid for states that expanded it, like Ohio, providing services to 1.3 million people across country, including 151,527 Ohioans. In fact, Medicaid pays for nearly 50 percent of buprenorphine-based Medication Assisted Treatment in Ohio. In addition, the Medicaid cuts the House bill makes mean that states would be on their own to handle the opioid – or other public health – crisis: States would also be on the hook for the full cost of meeting the needs of the opioid crisis and would be forced to cut back services and ration care exactly when people needed it most – the same could be true for other future public health crisis.
  • States Will No Longer Be Required to Cover Mental Health. The American Health Care Act allows states to opt out of “essential health benefits” required under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, states would no longer be required to cover benefits such as maternity care, prescription drugs or hospitalizations. Another essential health benefit that could be eliminated: mental health coverage.

But The Wealthy and Insurers Get a Huge Tax Break

 

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