Proposed changes to American Health Care Act

March 22, 2017

House Republicans have made some changes to their proposed health care bill currently making its way through Congress. In a seven page “manager’s amendment,” Republican Members have added numerous provisions to shore up support for the bill. The Prevent Cancer Foundation® remains concerned about the potential impact on cancer prevention and early detection programs. Here’s what we know of it so far.

Medicaid Changes:

The bill still plans to freeze Medicaid expansion, however these new amendments would prevent states that have not yet expanded Medicaid under current law to do so. But it would stop allowing states to cover adults with incomes over 133 percent of the federal poverty level after this year. Changes to the bill also ends the higher federal match for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries. And in this latest draft, states would gain the ability to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults. Starting with the 2020 budget year, each state would receive a limited, per-beneficiary amount based on enrollment and costs.

We know Medicaid pays for preventive services such as regular cancer screenings, and treatment for hepatitis B and C. Further limiting who is on Medicaid and cutting what the program pays for will end up harming those who are already struggling.

Tax Increases
Several tax increases would now be eliminated one year earlier (2017) than expected. Among these includes the tanning tax on tanning salons. The argument is that the federal government should not be making the decision of whether or not adults are using tanning salons, and that this unfairly penalizes an industry. However, indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma. Maintaining this tax not only raises revenue to pay for badly needed skin cancer programs, it can discourage a practice that leads to greatly increased skin cancer rates.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund
Just as before, the bill would still eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by over 10 percent. The Fund provides grants to community outreach programs engaged in health education, tobacco cessation, and that provide cancer screenings to underserved communities, programs that are in critical need of support. Eliminating this Fund will also cut funding for the federal vaccines program by half, a program that currently helps doctors in certain regions purchase vaccines at a reduced cost and mobilizes responses to outbreaks. As our Think About the Link® program emphasizes, vaccines against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B can prevent numerous cancers including cervical, anal, oropharyngeal and others for HPV, and liver cancer for hepatitis B.

In addition to providing funds for cancer screening and prevention, the Prevention and Public Health Fund pays for other crucial programs as well. The Fund is the sole budget source for the CDC’s program that reduces hospital acquired infections.   

It is unclear if these amendments would persuade enough Members to vote in favor of this new legislation. The vote is scheduled for TODAY, Thursday, March 23. If the bill passes the House with the required 216 votes, it still needs to go to the Senate where the path to passage is far less clear.

Tell Congress to protect coverage for millions of Americans, and to protect prevention.

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