Higgins: Enough Talk About Dismantling Health Care in America, Let’s Get to Work Providing the Health Care Americans Deserve
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) says it is time for the conversation about healthcare in American to shift, from one that tears down healthcare to one that builds it up. Higgins, who serves as a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means which has jurisdiction over healthcare legislation, outlined ways Western New York is leading the way in innovative delivery and said expanding on policies that work, including Medicare, could be the future of healthcare.
“For too long healthcare in America has been a political football but access to quality coverage and care is no game for the American people,” said Congressman Higgins. “It’s time for a genuine shift in the dialogue that ensures a system of healthcare that Americans can afford and deserve.”
National Pilot Project Underway in Erie & Niagara County
Erie and Niagara Counties are among approximately 20 regions in the nation selected to participate in Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+). The program, developed by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation through the Affordable Care Act, invites doctors to opt into a model of healthcare delivery that provides financial incentives for efficiencies and quality care improvements. Doctors in Western New York can apply to participate from May 18, 2017 to July 13, 2017.
Federally Qualified Health Centers Reduce Medicaid Costs
Health Centers serve as primary service providers for 25 million patients, with nearly half of those patients covered on Medicaid. Health Centers save the Medicaid program $6 billion annually, and Health Center patients on Medicaid have lower utilization of costly hospital and emergency department-related services.
Dr. Lavonne Ansari, CEO, Community Health Center of Buffalo said, “The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., serves patients throughout Erie and Niagara Counties. Buffalo is our main office, and we have offices in Lockport, Niagara Falls and Cheektowaga. A significant percentage of our patients are Medicaid eligible or receive some sort of government assistance, however our patient base includes families from all walks of life. The policies proposed in the American Health Care Act are going to hurt people from all socio-economic levels. “We as a community must put our heads together and identify new and innovative ways to deliver service and protect access to quality health care.”
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) includes more than $839 billion in cuts to Medicaid that hurt some of the most vulnerable populations including children, people with disabilities and our parents and grandparents in need of long-term care.
Bill Covington, regional organizer of the Healthcare Education Project added, "The Republican American Health Care Act (AHCA) is going to make things far worse for most Americans. It is proposing to strip hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid which will damage our healthcare system almost beyond repair. We pledge to work tirelessly with our allies in Congress to protect and expand quality healthcare for all Americans."
Higgins also believes Americans should have the option to buy into Medicare, especially for those 55-64 years of age. Under this proposal, Americans participating in the Medicare buy-in would have access to affordable coverage with the benefit of utilizing tools like the premium tax credit and cost sharing reductions already available on the exchanges.
Participants in a Medicare buy-in can opt-in and opt-out of the insurance program on a yearly basis, just like other plans offered on the exchanges. By acting as a buy-in, participants will still pay into Medicare, preserving the sustainability of the Medicare Trust Fund; and by leveraging the buying power of the federal government, the cost of care will remain manageable. And as the largest health insurance program in the country, coverage will be available nearly everywhere.
American Health Care Act (AHCA) Takes Us In The Wrong Direction
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the GOP healthcare bill than under current law and it estimates a total of 51 million uninsured by 2026. The AHCA would also grant an estimated $63 million in tax breaks for insurance companies that pay executives compensation of over $500 thousand a year, based on research conducted by the Center for American Progress. Higgins believes there is a better way.