The proposed American Health Care Act will be up for vote in the Senate next week, taking us one step closer to the Trump Administration’s goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act. A subject of intense political controversy, this bill poses a threat to the health care coverage of millions of Americans–including those with ASD. Regardless of your political affiliations, it is important to know how this bill could end up affecting you or your family.
Pediatrician Kate Wallis outlined the benefits that Medicaid coverage has on the health care of her patients with autism spectrum disorder. Through Medicaid and the Medical Assistance Program, patients are able to find services such as behavioral therapies, in-home aides, and other medical costs associated with their disability. However, under this bill, federal spending on Medicaid would be cut by $772 billion from 2017 to 2026. For those who rely on disability coverage to receive care, this could significantly jeopardize access to health coverage.
These cuts in spending will also jeopardize special education programs in schools. In addition to health care costs, Medicaid funding goes towards critical educational programs and staff such as speech therapists, occupational therapy, developmental screenings, and assistive technologies. For many children with ASD, these services are crucial for a successful education. However, these budget cuts put all of these programs at risk.
Finally, even those who do not rely on Medicaid or other federal assistance programs are at risk of losing their coverage. Because there will be no more penalties for those who choose to opt out of medical insurance, many younger healthier people may choose to forgo coverage if they cannot afford it. This could lead to a rise in price for those who cannot opt out, making health insurance unaffordable for people with ASD who need constant care.
Individuals with ASD deserve proper health care. While the original proposal for the GOP healthcare bill has been modified since its original approval by the House of Representatives, it is still a plan that would harm millions of Americans. Overall, while there has been a lot of opposition to this bill among both Republicans and Democrats, the enactment of this plan remains a possibility until it is voted on next week. Therefore, if you oppose this plan, it is not too late to make your voice heard. You can become an advocate for yourself or your loved one by calling your senators and telling them that a better plan is needed.