Health Insurance HQ distills the current political activity around health care into a brief, monthly educational update to help you become a more active consumer and citizen. Our experts in the field and others in our community are here to provide you with plenty of handy resources to help you use your voice and your vote to make a difference.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot in the news lately about the cuts to Medicaid proposed by both the American Health Care Act and President Trump’s new budget. But what’s all the fuss? Why be alarmed?
People tend to think of Medicaid as a health care program for those with modest incomes. But Medicaid pays for a lot of services that you, or someone you know, may have taken advantage of, including:
- Breast and cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs
- Long-term care, including adult care and nursing home care
- Medicare Savings programs, including help with medication costs
- Waiver programs for children with disabilities
- The Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working People with Disabilities
- Pre-school and school health centers
- Family planning services
In fact, 74.6 million people are enrolled in Medicaid or plans supported by Medicaid or its sister program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). That means that Medicaid provides essential services to over 1 in 5 Americans, and 1 in 3 children. In fact, since 2013, 40 percent of those enrolled in health insurance by The Actors Fund’s Artists Health Insurance Resource Center were enrolled in Medicaid. And about 60 percent of all nursing-home residents’ care is paid for by it. And that’s a big deal.
So when elected officials suggest cutting Medicaid by $834 billion dollars, that means the most vulnerable in our community—children, those with modest incomes, and the elderly—will go without the health care they need. Fourteen million people will lose insurance directly as a result of the proposed Medicaid cuts. In addition, the proposed changes don’t just roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act—they shrink the entire program. For example, in New York, children of families making over 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level—for a family of two, over $32,000 a year—would lose their health insurance.
If Medicaid helps so many people, why go after it? One reason is that the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid was funded, in part, by a 3.8 percent tax on investment income, as well as a 0.9 percent surtax on other earnings, of households with taxable incomes of more than $250,000 a year. But there’s another reason. As John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes, “As medical costs have risen and the private sector has failed to cover an increasing number of Americans, the Medicaid and CHIP programs have filled some of the coverage gap, and have done so relatively cheaply. (Studies show that covering people with private insurance plans costs somewhere between a quarter and a third more than Medicaid).”
The good news is, getting involved in these issues makes a difference. Tell your elected officials not to put our health care safety net, and the lives of millions of kids, seniors and other Americans at risk, in exchange for lower taxes for the already-wealthy. Families USA can help you understand the threats to Medicaid and help you talk to your representative about opposing them. If you have questions about how to contact your elected officials, visit our Health Insurance HQ from February.
As always, thanks for everything you do to protect America’s health care.
Yours in good health,
National Director, Health Services
Do you work in performing arts and entertainment and have questions about health insurance? The Actors Fund provides assistance nationally. Contact our regional office closest to you to speak to a counselor.
New York City
Don’t forget to use the resources section of our website. It contains tools to help you make decisions about your health insurance, including new online tutorials on how to choose providers and how to read an Explanation of Benefits. In addition, you’ll find an updated Stage Managers National Health Directory, our national online directory of health care providers recommended by industry professionals that can be used by theatres and touring companies. For these resources and more, visit actorsfund.org/HealthServices. You can also find out more about enrollment assistance and upcoming health insurance seminars near you!