An Open Letter: Dear Governor, Protect Coverage
As you continue budget conversations with your state legislature, state consumer health advocates urge you to protect health insurance coverage programs that help consumers achieve financial stability and good health.
Clearly, we have not recovered from the Great Recession and state economies remain fragile—as do the many consumers who rely on public programs to help them achieve financial stability. As states are crunching numbers and making trade offs, we urge you to take the long view. Protect coverage gains and ensure ongoing access to health care for consumers in your state.
Don’t go back on coverage.
After five years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 16.4 million consumers now have access to health coverage, many for the first time. Through the ACA we’ve opened the door to good health and we cannot backslide on coverage. Dismantling the progress we’ve made in insuring consumers to balance state budgets is costly. Without an insurance option, many consumers—many of whom are our most vulnerable community members—forgo coverage and delay care. These delays in care lead to more complex and costly health conditions.
Protect the people Medicaid helps the most.
Medicaid is the coverage program that provides access to health care no matter the age when we are most vulnerable. The faces of Medicaid range from the working parent to the retired grandmother—from the pregnant mother and her child to an individual with a disability. Medicaid plays a vital role in securing health access during difficult moments in our lives. The faces of Medicaid are hardworking parents and their children, expectant mothers, our seniors, and individuals with disabilities striving to live independent lives. They are our friends, our neighbors and our family. Numerous studies have shown us that an investment in Medicaid pays dividends to our future. Just this spring, a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds a correlation between Medicaid eligibility in children and increased earnings for those children as adults. And in turn, we know the devastating impact of scaling back eligibility for benefits. A study commissioned by CT Health Foundation finds that potential cuts to Medicaid in their state will lead to an average increase of $1,900 per year in health care costs for families. Between 7,000 and 10,000 parents will likely become uninsured and child coverage rates will likely drop—because parent and child health insurance coverage go hand in hand.
Elevate your voice to Washington.
We understand there is pressure to cut health programs in your state. We support a greater focus on making our health programs more efficient, producing high quality care that reduces cost. These health system transformations are percolating across the country—but they need time to expand and lead to best practices around quality and value for consumers.
In this time of economic uncertainty governors should raise their voices to Washington in support of federal funding for programs like Medicaid and CHIP, as Governor Hogan of Maryland just did. Congress is currently debating whether or not to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a long-standing health insurance program for children. Governors across the country must stand united on ensuring that this successful program continues to provide needed child-specific coverage to our children and bring needed federal funds into the states.
Finally, Governors must add their voice to the conversation about Medicaid structure on the federal level. The Republican proposal to restructure Medicaid into a block grant program would lead to severe funding cuts to state budgets, forcing states to eliminate Medicaid coverage for millions of our working families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
We all must work together to preserve the lowest uninsured rate in 40 years. This is not the time to move backward on coverage—this is the time to reimagine the health care system with coverage for all as its foundation.
State Consumer Health Advocates Everywhere