Menendez Leads Democrats in Amendment to Protect Health Care for 11M Americans

Menendez Leads Democrats in Amendment to Protect Health Care for 11M Americans

GOP repeal of ACA would kick most vulnerable off insurance rolls – including more than 530,000 New Jerseyans -- and put states that expanded Medicaid on the hook for billions of dollars

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees the nation’s health care system, and 26 Democrats, including Senator Cory Booker, introduced a budget amendment aimed at securing health coverage for 11 million Americans who receive it through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

“A majority of states -- with both Republican and Democratic Governors alike—did the right and humane thing by opting to expand Medicaid and allowing their states to receive additional federal funding to extend health care coverage to millions of Americans who before could not afford to see a doctor or fill a prescription,” said Sen. Menendez.  “It would be irresponsible for Republicans, in their haste to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no replacement, to force states like New Jersey to kick low-income families and children off their coverage.”

Thirty-one states—most with Republican governors—and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to cover people up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($11,880 individual income; $20,160 for family of three) and, for the first time, extended eligibility to 11 million low-income adults. 

The Menendez amendment would establish a budget point of order to prevent any legislation that increases the overall number of uninsured, decreases enrollment in Medicaid in expansion states, or leads to any increase in state spending on Medicaid.  

States that have expanded Medicaid stand to see 11 million people lose their coverage.  In New Jersey, repealing Medicaid expansion would result in some 533,000 people—or 10% of overall Medicaid enrollment—losing their coverage.  The financial impact to New Jersey would be $3 billion a year in lost federal Medicaid funding.  The state’s uninsured rate dropped 34% to an historic low of 8.7% as a result of the ACA, which included Medicaid expansion.

The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).  

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia have expanded Medicaid through ACA.