Menendez Slams Senate GOP Healthcare Bill; Hears from NJans Who Will Lose Coverage

Menendez Slams Senate GOP Healthcare Bill; Hears from NJans Who Will Lose Coverage

Senate Republican plan strips coverage from millions of Americans, hikes premiums, imposes age-tax, disproportionately hurts women & the disabled, forces most vulnerable to pay for massive tax cut for the rich

 

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today slammed the Senate Republican healthcare bill as being “downright nasty,” “heartless,” and “cruel.”  He was joined at the Newark Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the city’s North Ward, by several New Jerseyans who stand to lose coverage under the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“The Senate Republican health care bill, which we saw for the first time yesterday, isn’t a health care bill at all.  It’s a massive tax cut bill for insurance company CEO’s and the richest, paid for by cutting health care for the middle class and the most vulnerable among us,” said Sen. Menendez.  “So, if the House Republican plan was ‘mean,’ this bill is downright nasty, causing real harm to the health and economic security of hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans.”

  

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The Senate GOP healthcare bill largely mirrors the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed exclusively last month by House Republicans that the Congressional Budget Office found would cause 23 million Americans to lose their coverage and out-of-pocket costs to rise.

 

GOP-health-budget-stats 

According to New Jersey Policy Perspectives, the Senate Republican healthcare bill:

 

  • Would cause New Jersey’s uninsurance rate to skyrocket. (We will not have the final estimate until the Congressional Budget Office completes its analysis, but the phase out of the Medicaid expansion alone would cause the number of uninsured to increase by up to 400,000.)
  • Effectively repeals the Medicaid expansion that assists 562,000 New Jerseyans. They would lose coverage at a slower rate than under the House bill – but the bottom line is that they would all still likely lose their health coverage. The federal matching rate would be reduced starting in 2021 in the Senate bill, instead of 2020 in the House bill, and it would be phased down over three years. However, many states may not have the funding to pay for the higher state matching rate so they may have to end the expansion for new applicants the first year anyway.
  • Continues the radical restructuring of Medicaid by permanently capping and reducing the funding needed to serve 1.6 million New Jersey seniors, people with disabilities and children. In fact, the Senate makes even deeper cuts to Medicaid.
  • Raises premiums and eliminates subsidies that help reduce costs for New Jersey consumers. There are up to 350,000 New Jerseyans who buy their own insurance who could end up paying much more. This would be an even greater problem when over a half million New Jersey residents lose their Medicaid expansion coverage and must turn to the marketplace for insurance.
  • Allows states to drop basic services like maternity care, mental health and drug treatment. Insurers could in effect still deny insurance to people with pre-existing conditions by simply eliminating the benefits they need from their coverage. It is estimated that 24 percent of all non-elderly residents, or 1.2 million people, have a preexisting condition in New Jersey.
  • Allows insurers to charge older residents five times more than younger adults for their coverage. Over half of everyone in the New Jersey marketplace is age 35 or older.
  • Includes huge tax cuts for the wealthy. Millionaires in New Jersey would receive a tax cut averaging $50,000, which would only increase the enormous income and wealthy inequality in the state.

 

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Sen. Menendez was joined by Dr. Pamela Clarke, CEO of Newark Community Health Center, and several local residents whose personal stories illustrated the direct harm the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would have on the economic and health security of New Jerseyans. 

Sarah Foye, Pine Brook

Sarah’s 16-year-old son, Adam, suffers from a very rare and severe muscular disorder called Titin-related Centronuclear Myopathy.  He requires a wheelchair and help with day-to-day activities.  The daily nursing care provided through his Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school will end when he graduates, and he will be dependent on Medicaid when he turns 18.  Adam hopes to go to college to study computer science, but will not be able to pursue his dreams if proposed Medicaid cuts impact the nursing services he needs.

Thomas Heaney, Bloomfield

Thomas, his wife, Pauline, and four kids are on Medicaid after illnesses prevented both him and his wife from holding steady employment.  Thomas said Medicaid is the difference between life and death for Pauline, who suffers from Asthma and other serious conditions that require expensive medication. The couple’s son is hearing impaired, wears hearing aids and needs continuing care.   

Eileen Stuart, Livingston

Eileen’s 47-year-old daughter, Laurie, suffers from severe developmental disabilities and lives in a group home where she receives the services she needs funding through Medicaid to support her in the community.  The proposed Medicaid cuts would have a devastating impact on Laurie and her entire family.

Alton Robinson, Rockaway

Alton is a recovering addict who has been clean for several years and now dedicates his life to helping other addicts in recovery.  His treatment and that of many of the people he helps are covered through Medicaid. 

Elaine Rodriguez, Hamilton

Elaine’s 13-year-old daughter, Leandra Delgado, is medically fragile, disabled, on oxygen, has had 19 surgeries, and takes 18 daily medications.  Elaine said she doesn’t know how she and her family would manage without Medicaid.

Earlier this week, Sen. Menendez took to the floor of the U.S. Senate and spoke out against Republican efforts to destroy healthcare protections for millions of Americans. 

Sen. Menendez has met in recent weeks with New Jerseyans who stand to lose their healthcare coverage under the GOP repeal bill.  Ahead of Mother’s Day, the senator focused on the impact of the Republican healthcare plan on womenHe heard from patients with preexisting conditions and their families during a visit last month to Hackensack University Medical Center.  In March, the senator discussed the impact of Medicaid cuts with constituents and advocates at the Southern Jersey Family Medical Center (SJFMC), a federally qualified health center in Burlington City.

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that a 13-member, all-male panel of Republican senators would draft health care legislation, Sen. Menendez joined all 48 Senate Democrats in urging Senate Republican Leaders to drop  repeal efforts and work in a bipartisan way.  He also recently penned an op-ed in the Newark Star-Ledger calling on Republicans to abandon this partisan assault on the Affordable Care Act and work with Democrats to make improvements to the law.

A far-reaching group of health care organizations have vocally opposed the Republican healthcare plan, including the ARC of New Jersey, New Jersey Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, AARP, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Catholic Health Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, Planned Parenthood, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March of Dimes, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, American College of Physicians, the ACLU, American Public Health Association, American Federation of Teachers, and America’s Essential Hospitals.

 

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