Making Democracy Work

Health Care

Advocating for Health Care

Advocates Watchful But Ask: "Replace before Repeal"

Congressional maneuvers have begun the dismantling of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). Their first steps include attacks through the budget and appropriations process. No money, no care.

We anticipate additional tactics. Will the appointment of Dr. Tom Price as head of Health and Human Services become a reality? What rule changes would weaken consumer protections? Please know that contacting your US Senators and Congressional Representatives may be the best defense.

There are several areas of concern beyond dismantling ACA. Would stem cell research move forward? would opioid addiction treatment be allowed? Medical trials could be thwarted. Fear may prevent immigrants from seeking medical treatment.

Seldom considered is the importance of the Secretary of Agriculture in directing the general health of our population. This department regulates food program for low income people. They include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - food stamps) and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) programs. Recipient numbers have been reduced over the years, but the latest numbers suggest 44 million people benefit from the program. WIC serves pregnant women and infants (up to 5 years of age). According to Kaiser Health News, 53% of all US born infants benefit from this program. Sonny Perdue, former Georgia Governor, has been suggested for this cabinet appointment.

Take a look at Missouri. The Senate Committee for Seniors, Families and Children is reviewing possibilities through SB 28. Advocates are testifying against this proposal and would like tot see this stay in committee hearings rather than go to the floor of the Senate - and further. It is subject to change as it goes through the legislative process.

This proposal suggests the legislature would also approach financial squeezes to make fewer and fewer Medicaid recipients able to pay for health care. MO HEALTH NET is our state Medicaid program. Federal Block Grants would limit the shared finances currently at approximately a 60/40 split of Federal vs State money. Some legislators also suggest amounts received should be capped which ultimately would affect ALL those receiving MO Health Net benefits.

Remain watchful. Speak to issues. Ask questions of our elected officials. "Complacency is not an option," read one of the signs at the Women's March on January 21. Our League members are powerful and watchful as citizens.

Dianne Modrell, Chrm Health Care Committee