People For the American Way

Congress Must Protect Critical Health Programs

People For in Action
Congress Must Protect Critical Health Programs
Photo by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman

As the new congressional session gets underway, People For the American Way, Families USA, and more than 300 other national and state organizations are reminding members of Congress of their responsibility to protect the health, well-being, and financial security of families across the country. Whether it be Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, or other essential components of our nation’s social safety net, Congress must stand up for critical health insurance coverage and support. You can download our January 25 letter, with signers, here.

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi:

As leading national, state, and local organizations concerned about the health and well-being of America’s families, we are writing to urge you to oppose any new cuts to federal health programs or other essential components of our nation’s social safety net. As the new session of the 115th Congress gets underway, our organizations are calling on Congress to protect access to affordable, high-quality and comprehensive health insurance and set aside legislative and budgetary efforts that would reduce health coverage, increase health care costs, or reduce protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance, including insurance provided through the health insurance marketplaces, support the health, well-being, and financial security of millions of families across the nation. The evidence is clear that when consumers have a reliable source of high-quality health coverage, they are able to access critical health services, including prevention and behavioral health services; experience better overall health status and improved health outcomes; and are protected against unexpected medical expenses. Cuts or changes to these programs—including efforts to fundamentally alter the Medicaid financing structure, to weaken benefit arrangements, or to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—would jeopardize the health and financial security of people across the country.

We are particularly concerned about any new cuts or changes to the Medicaid program. Medicaid is an essential source of coverage for 74 million people. Medicaid’s current state-federal partnership helps states provide quality health insurance to their residents—it ensures that children are able to get a healthy start in life, provides long-term care to seniors and people with disabilities, and health care to many adults including pregnant people. Efforts to restructure or cut Medicaid would shift health care costs to the states, hurt local economies, and threaten care and coverage for millions.

It is also critical for Congress to protect—and not weaken or undermine—consumers’ ability to obtain affordable, comprehensive private health insurance. Consumer protections including Essential Health Benefits are crucial for people with pre-existing conditions. Eliminating or weakening these federal protections jeopardizes the ability of people with serious health conditions to obtain the coverage and care they need. In addition, premium tax credits make coverage through the marketplaces affordable for millions of Americans and must not be reduced or eliminated.

Today, we call on House and Senate leaders to protect the programs that provide critical health insurance coverage and support. It is time to put aside efforts to undermine the social safety net and reject proposals that risk the health, well-being, and financial security of families across the country.