Good health is a cornerstone to a productive and happy life. Too many low-income people lack access to quality, affordable healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has substantially reduced the number of uninsured Americans and improved access to care, in particular through the expansion of Medicaid. Since the law was passed in 2010, an estimated 20 million Americans have obtained health insurance coverage. Moreover, the uninsured rate declined from 20.3% in 2012 to 11% as of early 2016一a 46% reduction.
Because so many of our health care expenditures are federally funded in part or in whole, policy choices made by Congress have a significant impact on health care access for poor people. Despite the successes of health reform, Congress repeatedly voted to repeal or curtail implementation of the ACA last year. Moreover, Congress voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which plays an indispensible role in providing access to reproductive health services for low-income women; 79% of the three million patients Planned Parenthood serves each year are low income. On the other hand, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to 8.1 million low-income children, was reauthorized last year.
S. 262—Defunding Planned Parenthood: The House and Senate considered separate but parallel legislation last year that would have prohibited the federal funding of reproductive health services provided by Planned Parenthood. This legislation would have effectively revoked access to reproductive healthcare for hundreds of thousands of low-income women.
S. 313—Maintaining federal support for the cost of state Medicaid expansions: Although 31 states have expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 19 have not, often citing the future cost of the expansion as prohibitive. This amendment was designed to add to the substantial progress already achieved by the ACA in ensuring that low-income people have access to high-quality health insurance by permanently maintaining the federal reimbursement rate for Medicaid expansions at 100%.
S. 329—Dismantling key provisions of the Affordable Care Act: Enacting this legislation would have deprived millions of people of health coverage by dismantling some of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the state Medicaid expansions, the individual mandate and federal insurance exchanges.
S. 144—Reauthorizing health insurance for low-income children: Passage of this legislation reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. CHIP and Medicaid work together to ensure that 8.1 million children have health insurance and access to quality health care services each year.
S. 137—Repealing the individual mandate: Adoption of this amendment would have repealed the individual mandate—one of the linchpins of the Affordable Care Act. Without the individual mandate, millions fewer Americans would have health insurance.