Letter outlines how the AHCA would affect Coloradans with disabilities

A network of civil rights advocates is warning Coloradans how the healthcare bill being debated in Congress would play out for people with disabilities.

“We know that the AHCA would harm Coloradans who need health insurance. On average, Colorado residents will have to pay more to get health insurance by 2020,” reads a letter released Thursday by the Colorado Cross-Disabilities Coalition. “But, we are most concerned by the draconian cuts to Medicaid. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, AHCA would impose $880 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next ten years.”

More from the letter, which is signed by more than 30 groups including the ACLU, The Center for People with Disabilities, Colorado Mental Wellness Network, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Colorado Developmental Disability Council, Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and others:

This is close to a 25% cut in federal dollars. Here is what Medicaid looks like in Colorado:

● Colorado Medicaid covers 137,000 people with disabilities of all ages and 65,000 seniors.

● More than 60,000 people with disabilities require long-term services and supports, meaning that they need assistance every day with activities such as eating, bathing, etc.

● More than 30 percent ($1.9 billion) of our state’s Medicaid budget goes to long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities – and more than 60% of that goes to home and community-based services.

● In Fiscal Year 2015, Colorado received $4.45 billion from the federal government program, almost two-thirds of our total Medicaid budget.

“Coloradans have worked hard to ensure that, whenever possible, people with disabilities receive services in the community rather than in institutions. But this humane and cost-effective approach would be at risk under the AHCA,” the letter continues. “Because federal law requires our state to cover certain services – including important but costly nursing home care – necessary cuts would inevitably target home and community-based services, which are optional. People with disabilities would be forced back into nursing homes and institutions, triggering spiraling costs and unnecessary suffering.”

Read the full letter here.

By late afternoon Thursday, Republicans in Congress were still scrambling for votes on their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with The American Health Care Act. A vote on the ACHA was expected today, but might not come as Republicans with concerns meet with President Donald Trump.

The bill would change some things about Obamacare – scrapping the requirement to have health insurance, for instance — but keep other parts such as barring health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Some Republicans say the bill doesn’t go far enough to knock down Obamacare. Republicans control the U.S. House, Senate, and the presidency.

On Wednesday, Colorado’s members of Colorado’s Republican congressional delegation said they were undecided on how they might vote.