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House votes to implement Affordable Health Care Act
From press releases
by Matt Simonette

All seven Republican Illinois Congressional delegates voted May 4 in favor of the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation intended to replace components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The final vote on the bill, which was quickly introduced and voted on before it was scrutinized by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—or even read by many members—was 217-213. No Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, which, perhaps most significantly, would drop a mandate that all Americans be covered by health insurance.

The bill had previously stalled since many legislators were concerned about pre-existing conditions clauses. While insurance companies still would not be able to deny coverage on those grounds, they could sharply increase rates for sicker individuals, many of whom would then be driven into expensive "high-risk" pools that offer limited coverage. A last-minute deal directed an additional $8 billion over five years to those high-risk pools, though critics maintain that even that cash infusion would be insufficient.

Read more story below....

The CBO estimated that AHCA, in its original version, would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing their insurance.

LGBT- and healthcare-advocates decried the May 4 vote.

In a statement released under the auspices of the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition, AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) President and CEO John Peller called the AHCA "a terrible bill that will cover fewer people, with weaker protections, at higher costs for Illinoisans."

Peller said, "Today's vote brings Illinois one step closer to the brink, threatening a loss of health coverage for millions of Illinoisans, the loss of tens of thousands of Illinois jobs, and a loss of billions in federal funds that support Illinois' state budget. It is simply unconscionable that any member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation would support this bill and put the health and financial well-being of several million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions at risk. We are outraged that all seven House Republicans of the Illinois Delegation … supported it and we are frankly shocked at the reversal of so many promises to ensure those with pre-existing conditions were protected."

PFLAG National Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm said, "Each one of us has an individual story about why access to health care is so important, deeply personal and, for too many, can involve pain, grief, and anxiety. For the LGBTQ community, their families, and people living with HIV and AIDS, if the ACA replacement passes in the Senate and is signed into law it would raise out-of-pocket costs, penalize preexisting conditions, threaten Medicaid, punish the poor, and risk outright failure of people receiving much-needed treatment and services. We hope that the Senate demonstrates that it values at-risk communities more overtly and will continue this fight for our healthcare and lives."

Gov. Bruce Rauner also issued a statement on the vote.

"The bill that passed in the U.S. House today continues to be of deep concern to our administration," Rauner said. "Recent changes did not address fundamental concerns about the bill's impact on the 650,000 individuals that are part of our Medicaid expansion population, nor have those changes eased the concerns of the 350,000 people in the individual market who are dealing with skyrocketing premiums and fewer choices. We will continue to voice our concerns as the law moves to the Senate."

The AHCA faces steeper hurdles in the Senate, where Republicans have a slimmer majority and must contend with more stringent legislative procedures.

Illinois House members voting in favor of ACHA included Reps. Peter Roskam (6), Mike Bost (12), Rodney Davis (13), Randy Hultgren (14), John Shimkus (15), Adam Kinzinger (16) and Darin LaHood (18).

From the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund:

WASHINGTON, DC, May 4, 2017—Today, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed the hastily concocted Trumpcare, the so-called American Health Care Act ( AHCA ), which seeks to repeal the landmark Affordable Care Act ( ACA ). If enacted, the bill could eliminate quality affordable health care for millions of people. In addition to today's House vote to repeal the ACA, yesterday, the Department of Justice pursued a court order to suspend ACA section 1557 nondiscrimination protections. The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund ( The Task Force ) is joining lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) advocates in urging the U.S. Senate to reject Trumpcare.

"Trumpcare poses a catastrophic threat to people all across the country. Members of Congress were so hell bent on pushing this bill forward that it hasn't even been scored yet by the Congressional Budget Office. That means we don't actually know how many people this bill will impact or the cost implications for tax payers. Yet while we don't know all of Trumpcare's harmful consequences we do know it will disproportionately affect LGBTQ people, who are twice as likely to be uninsured as non-LGBTQ people. It will also take away health care from millions of people, gut Medicaid funding, and end Medicaid expansions, affecting 11 million families, children, people with disabilities, low-income people, and seniors. It will also undermine protections for people living with HIV or other chronic conditions and raise health care costs by thousands of dollars for millions of people all while giving millionaires an average annual tax cut of $50,000; deny access to affordable contraception and other forms of preventative care; and end insurance companies' lifetime cap on coverage benefits; and restricts federal funding for Planned Parenthood, putting care for 2.5 million patients nationwide at risk," said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

"We urge everyone to continue the resistance against this repeal effort and stand alongside so many who oppose what the Republican-led Congress is doing. There are a lot of reasons why we oppose this bill. It is worth noting that Trumpcare is so bad that members of Congress are exempting themselves from it," said Carey.

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund is mobilizing its 200,000 members to call on U.S. Senators to vote against Trumpcare. For decades, The Task Force has worked to increase funding for and awareness of HIV and LGBTQ health care issues, including taking part in public education campaigns such as Bisexual Health Awareness Month and the publication of the Queering Reproductive Justice Toolkit. During the Obama Administration, the organization partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) to increase access to affordable healthcare among LGBTQ people. Last week, the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund co-sponsored and presented at "SYNChronicity 2017: The National Conference for HIV, HCV, and LGBT Health."

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund works to secure full freedom, justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) people. For over forty years, we have been at the forefront of the social justice movement by training thousands of organizers and advocating for change at the federal, state, and local level. www.thetaskforceactionfund.org .

From PFLAG National:

WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ )—today spoke out following the 217-213 U.S. House of Representatives vote to repeal the ACA.

PFLAG National Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm said, "Each one of us has an individual story about why access to health care is so important, deeply personal and, for too many, can involve pain, grief, and anxiety. For the LGBTQ community, their families, and people living with HIV and AIDS, if the ACA replacement passes in the Senate and is signed into law it would raise out-of-pocket costs, penalize preexisting conditions, threaten Medicaid, punish the poor, and risk outright failure of people receiving much-needed treatment and services. We hope that the Senate demonstrates that it values at-risk communities more overtly and will continue this fight for our healthcare and lives. PFLAG members and supporters across the country will continue to voice our concerns and remind our elected officials that access to health care is not politics for us, but deeply personal and can be a matter of life and death."

To learn more about PFLAG National's advocacy work, visit pflag.org/wherewestand .

PFLAG is the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy, and has more than 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. To learn more, visit pflag.org .

From HRC: Senate Must Protect Health Coverage for Millions of Americans:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, released the following statement strongly condemning a vote by the House of Representatives to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to score this version of the legislation, a previous projection estimated the legislation will result in 14 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2018. That number skyrockets to 24 million by 2026.

"Donald Trump and his allies in Congress are one step closer to ripping away care from millions of people, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV," said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "It is unconscionable that Congress might restrict vital health care for the very people they represent. With people's lives on the line, we urge the Senate to stop this madness and reject this harmful piece of legislation."

The AHCA undermines core provisions of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result of the ACA, thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatments. The AHCA's drastic changes to Medicaid will likely strip these people, and other vulnerable populations, of essential healthcare coverage.

In order to get the votes necessary to pass the AHCA, the Republican majority added an amendment by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) which allows states to opt-out of offering the essential health benefits — a core component of the ACA. Another amendment by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) provides an additional $8 billion to aid states in funding high-risk pools for individuals with preexisting health conditions. However, many states previously attempted to contain runaway health costs by using high-risk pools before the passage of the ACA, only to shut them down because they could not afford to sustain them.

The tax credit structure embedded in the proposed health care act leaves behind thousands of low-income individuals and families who will be priced out of coverage. Systemic discrimination of LGBTQ Americans leaves them with some of the lowest rates of insurance coverage in the nation. The LGBTQ community has benefitted from the ACA's tax credit structure and the Medicaid Expansion, and the rescission of both of these critical components will have devastating consequences for a community already facing significant health care disparities.

Beyond repealing these key provisions of the ACA, the AHCA would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which could jeopardize the ability of clinics to deliver preventive health services, including HIV testing and transition-related care. The ACA's public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation's public health infrastructure, would also be repealed. Health centers, like those operated by Planned Parenthood, often offer the only culturally competent healthcare available, especially in rural and isolated areas.

In considering the ACA in 2009 and 2010, the House held 79 hearings over the course of a year, heard from 181 witnesses and accepted 121 amendments. The current House leadership has moved this unacceptable repeal and replacement legislation through the House in a matter of weeks. The Senate adopted the ACA only after approximately 100 hearings, roundtables, walkthroughs and other meetings, and after 25 consecutive days in continuous session debating the bill.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

From National Center for Transgender Equality:

Today, President Donald Trump issued a very troubling executive order directing the Justice Department to draft potentially sweeping exemptions for anti-LGBT discrimination by federal employees, contractors, and grantees, while also aiming to promote partisan political spending by churches and limit access to contraception.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, offered the following statement in response:

"Thanks to the overwhelming pushback from so many communities, President Trump stopped short today of explicitly endorsing anti-LGBT discrimination. But this vaguely worded order is clearly aimed at providing a license to discriminate against LGBT people, women, religious minorities, and others—while also eroding the separation of church and state. President Trump has simply asked others in his administration to do much of his dirty work.

"Like today's Congressional vote to take away health care from millions of Americans, any effort to divide this nation is dangerous, un-American, and will ensure that those who fight for equality will do so until such efforts are dead for good. We call on transgender people and their loved ones to keep making their voices heard by their elected officials. This is our country too."

From Attorney General Lisa Madigan:

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today condemned the federal executive order signed under the guise of religious freedom that jeopardizes women's access to crucial preventative healthcare services like contraception.

Madigan issued the following statement against the Executive Order that directs the federal government to issue regulations that would allow organizations to claim religious objections to providing employees with basic preventative medical care:

"The Executive Order signed today creates a license for employers and corporations to discriminate under the pretense of religious beliefs. It puts countless women at risk of being denied basic healthcare.

This is an attack on women's rights and an assault on progress and equality.

I will continue to vigorously defend women's rights and work to ensure women have access to preventative healthcare."

From ACLU of Illinois:

The ACLU of Illinois is a steering committee member of Protect our Care —IL, a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, joining together to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care. See https://protectourcareil.org for more information.

Statement of Mary Dixon, ACLU of Illinois' Health Justice Policy Director:

We oppose the American Health Care Act ( AHCA ) because it harms women, children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. The AHCA does away with health care for the almost 700,000 adults in our state who receive care through an expansion of Medicaid made available through the Affordable Care Act.

The AHCA is a return to the dark days when people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and cancer could not afford insurance. This legislation allows insurers to charge more to people who are sick, leading to premium increases upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for coverage that is unlikely to meet their health care needs. States could get rid of the essential health benefits, which would mean a return to skimpy plans without coverage for maternity care, substance use disorders, or mental health services. For women, this means they must pay more for coverage that actually meets their health care needs. Even worse, the bill cuts billions to Medicaid, jeopardizing care for millions of low-income seniors, people living with disabilities, children, and low-income parents. An amendment offering 8 billion in federal funding, far less than what is needed, offers the illusion of support to people with pre-existing conditions by funding high-risk pools, which have already failed in Illinois and simply don't work. People with pre-existing conditions will have to get special insurance that costs more and covers less.

This bill still strips coverage for more than 24 million people nationwide by 2026, including 14 million by next year. The gains of the Affordable Care Act are significant and are vital to people in our state. We will not go back. The ACLU of Illinois will continue to fight to ensure that people in Illinois are protected.

From Heartland Alliance:

Heartland Alliance believes that quality healthcare, available to all people, is a basic pillar of a strong, just, and equitable society. As a provider of healthcare to those who need it most, Heartland Alliance finds the recent House of Representatives 217-213 vote in favor of the American Health Care Act ( AHCA ) to be deeply troubling. The Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion and protections for those suffering from serious illnesses have been transformative for our efforts to prevent and eliminate poverty. The AHCA would dismantle these programs, stripping needed health coverage from millions of Americans and taking a step backward in ensuring health and opportunity for the individuals we serve. Heartland Alliance is disappointed that leaders from Illinois would vote for legislation that puts over one million people in Illinois in jeopardy of losing their healthcare.

Read our full statement on the recent House of Representatives vote at the link: https:// www.heartlandalliance.org/ha-denounces-vote-ahca .

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