The following is a statement by Alliance for Strong Families and Communities President and CEO Susan Dreyfus on the impact the Senate health care bill will have on populations served by the Medicaid program.

The Senate’s health care bill, H.R. 1628, The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, was developed without benefit of hearings, public debate or input from either health care consumers or health or human services professionals. As drafted, it would fundamentally alter our country’s health care and human services systems.

We are particularly concerned about the proposed changes to the Medicaid program. The Medicaid program provides low-income children, adults, people with disabilities, and older adults access to the services they need to live healthy and productive lives. Like the House-passed American Health Care Act, this bill proposes to change the way Medicaid program is financed by the federal government. The changes will have a ripple effect on local and state economies as well as many other systems such as child welfare, education, and senior services.

The nonprofit, social services sector, which is uniquely positioned at the intersection of families, communities, and the systems they rely on, believes there are essential elements needed to improve and reform our health care system. If we are to truly reform the system and bend the cost curve, we must provide health care consumers access to a minimum floor of essential benefits and preventative care, regardless of the state they live in. We must fulfill our nation’s promise to better integrate behavioral health and primary care. The health care system needs to factor in the social and economic factors, which are the biggest predictors of health. Health system reform must be designed to address disparities and integrated to ensure better health outcomes.

We believe there is a better approach to reforming our health care system—one that ensures gains, not losses for those who rely on Medicaid and one that provides adequate and timely payment to providers of vital behavioral and health care services.

In its current form, we cannot recommend that our strategic action network of more than 450 organizations support this bill. We must also consider the proposed tsunami of cuts across social services programs and the threats to the charitable tax deduction that when viewed together, will drastically undermine the growth potential for of our families, workforce, and communities

We urge members of the Senate to slow down the process and take the time to involve communities, consumers, and health and human service professionals in the critical decisions that may negatively impact millions of people. Together, lets craft a reform bill that will improve health care access and affordability, offer preventative and essential benefits to all, and integrate systems of support to improve the lives and health of all Americans.

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