CDA engages policymakers as ACA reform efforts continue

The House of Representatives’ vote May 4 to approve the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is the first step down a long, winding road of a possible repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The House version of the AHCA allows states to request waivers to cease providing essential health benefits, including dental coverage for children and maternity and mental health coverage. It reestablishes annual and lifetime limits on benefits and allows plans to charge higher premiums for sick patients with pre-existing conditions.

The Congressional Budget Office’s revised report on the AHCA estimates that nearly 23 million Americans would lose health coverage under the proposal, and while the AHCA will cut $834 million in Medicaid spending, expanded Medicaid coverage would cease and the funding structure could change, affecting low- and moderate-income Americans. While health care premiums may decrease after 2020, the CBO estimates those plans will provide less coverage while increasing patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.

Nationally, more than 45 million children rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, for their medical and dental coverage. The proposal to change Medicaid funding to a per capita allotment or block grant would force state programs to make significant changes that would negatively affect access to and the delivery of dental services in these programs.

In California, nearly 60 percent of all children and one-third of all adults are enrolled in Denti-Cal, California’s Medicaid dental program. Since the implementation of the ACA, California’s uninsured rate has decreased from 17 percent to a low of 7.1 percent. As a result, more than 6 million Californians gained coverage under the ACA.

CDA and other health care organizations such as the California Medical Association have expressed their concerns to policymakers that the AHCA would harm Californians due to the erosion of pre-existing condition protections, decrease patient access to physicians and dentists and cause over 3 million Californians to lose health care coverage.

At the time of this writing, it is unclear when the Senate will take up the vote on the AHCA. Regardless of timing, it is anticipated there will be significant changes to the legislation prior to the Senate vote.

CDA continues to engage with policymakers to ensure that patients have access to affordable dental benefits, allowing them to improve their oral and overall health.

For more information regarding the ACA reform efforts, please visit cda.org or contact CDA Public Affairs at 916.554.4984.

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