How Repealing Obamacare Can Affect Brain Injury Victims on Medicaid

House Republicans have officially submitted their proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, and passed a new bill, the American Health Care Act. This new bill is designed to make many progressive changes, but the impact it will have on Medicaid could significantly affect brain injury victims.

The American Health Care Act was passed by The House Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee on March 9, and aims to make drastic changes to Medicaid funding. One of the Republican goals is to use this bill to make noteworthy tax changes. The new healthcare bill will finance tax credits and repeal the taxes set in place by the Affordable Care Act, but these changes will come at the cost of Medicaid beneficiaries. The bill will cap funding for Medicaid recipients, a decision the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has expressly fought against. The BIAA argues that capping funding for Medicaid limits the number of necessary and expected treatments the patients have access to. The Kaiser Family Foundation says the bill could cap funding for over 74 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries, brain injury victims included. Investing fewer federal dollars in Medicare will undoubtedly save the federal government copious amounts of money, but it will also reduce Medicaid funds by an estimated $880 billion over the next 9 years. In short, this could result in an estimated 14 million people losing their Medicare coverage.

The Brain Injury Association of American has since expressed its support of New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell’s amendment to protect individuals with traumatic brain injuries. The BIAA sent a letter to the Ways and Means Committee in favor of Pascrell’s ideas to purchase private health insurance. This plan would be affordable if the government maintained current premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction subsidies.

In an attempt to turn power over healthcare away from the federal level, state reviews for network adequacy will now be more heavily relied upon than reviews at the federal level, as it was under Obamacare. The American Health Care Act leaves more up to the states, which has spurred The Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation (CPR) to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create a standard for quality control. If the state is to determine adequacy for healthcare, CMS should be prepared to put in place requirements to ensure that health plans provide all essential services for beneficiaries. These healthcare plans should also be able to provide specialists and rehabilitation services, like those required for traumatic brain injury victims and others with disabilities.

Among all of the other healthcare changes, the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2017 also moved forward. This act repeals the outpatient therapy services cap, enabling continued funding for intensive and rehabilitative care. This will benefit Medicare beneficiaries with chronic and serious disabilities allowing them access to treatments and services that will improve and maintain their health. The Brain Injury Association of America supports this act, and the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation, as the initiators of the act, believe it will have a significant impact on Medicare beneficiaries requiring rehabilitation.

If you or someone you know has a brain injury and needs representation, contact Scarlett Law Group today to speak with an attorney.

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