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Health Advocacy

We Heard You: W.H.Y. Advocacy

WHY is health advocacy important? Because elected officials play a critical role in laws that affect healthcare locally. Sometimes, education is needed to help officials understand the diverse ways lives are influenced by healthcare-related policies, both personally and professionally. As healthcare workers, and as patients, your personal experiences are powerful! The information on these advocacy-related pages is offered to help constituents voice their important opinions.

We Heard You

Mercy staff: We heard you at Meet with Administration sessions, and this page was created in response as a resource to give healthcare advocates easy access to communication tips and tools for having productive conversations with appropriate elected officials on a local and state level.

Visit the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) for information on specific state healthcare issues. Find more IHA Advocacy Resources.


Issues:

BCRA & Iowa Hospitals

After passing in the United States House of Representatives in early May, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to repeal and replace most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made its way to the Senate. Rather than voting on the AHCA, the Senate released a revised version of the bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) on June 22. Senators will likely vote on the BCRA in mid- to late-July, giving the public a short window of time to share their opinions on this proposed legislation with elected officials if they choose to do so.

Learn more about this legislation and analysis of it from the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA).

Quick Facts

Below are some facts to assist you if you choose to reach out to legislators to communicate your position on the bill. Also, visit the “AHCA & Iowa Hospitals” section of this webpage for additional information.

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), under BCRA, 22 million people would lose coverage by 2026 — 15 million of whom would be Medicaid recipients.
Medicaid


The CBO estimates the bill would reduce federal funding to the Medicaid program by $772 billion from 2017 through 2026, a 26% reduction in 2026 compared to current law.

  • Children make up 51.1% of Iowa’s Medicaid population per the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Per the American Hospital Association, one in 10 veterans depends on Medicaid.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Medicaid spending goes to nursing home care.
  • BCRA looks very similar to AHCA, but would make extensive changes to the Medicaid funding structure. Instead of federal matching funds, it would give states a set amount to spend per person, which shifts the cost of healthcare to the state, local governments and providers. This could be devastating for the Medicaid program—hitting all hospitals, but especially rural facilities, hard.

Coverage Changes

  • Eliminates individual and employer coverage mandate penalties.
  • Includes a six-month waiting period if enrollees haven’t had continuous coverage throughout the prior 12 months.
  • Allows states to more easily waive essential health benefits, which includes maternity and newborn care, mental health services and more.

Changes in Health Insurance Markets

  • Cuts financial help to those who purchase health insurance on the individual market by modifying eligibility for premium tax credits to those who earn 0-350% of the poverty line.
  • Changes the age-rating rules to allow insurers to charge older Americans five times as much as younger people.
  • Reduces the tax credit available to older adults.

Effect on Hospitals

  • The bill does not restore hospital reimbursement rates, which would create substantial financial hardship when combined with the possibility of millions of uninsured Americans.
  • Commonwealth Fund estimates the reduction in federal spending on healthcare in the AHCA, which are comparable to the BCRA, would result in 725,000 fewer healthcare jobs and 924,000 fewer total jobs by 2026.

To access more information, visit:

AHCA & Iowa Hospitals

On May 4, 2017, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — which would repeal/replace most of the Affordable Care Act — by a narrow margin of 217 to 213, sending the bill to the Senate for deliberation. The Senate, however, has indicated it will write its own version of the bill rather than voting on the current AHCA passed by the House, which gives the public time to share their own opinions about the bill as it stands today with elected officials if they choose to do so.

Learn more about this legislation and analysis of it from the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA).

Quick Facts

Below are some facts to assist you if you choose to reach out to legislators to communicate your position on the bill.

  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, AHCA is expected to increase the number of uninsured by 14 million in 2018 (compared to current law) and 24 million by 2026.
  • The plan could allow insurance companies to charge more for individuals with pre-existing conditions (like diabetes and cancer) due to their high risk, which could mean unaffordable premiums for millions, especially vulnerable populations including older Americans and those with disabilities.
  • Insurance companies could charge older people up to five times as much as younger people.
  • States could apply for waivers exempting insurance companies from an essential health benefits requirement, which may result in loss of coverage for important services like maternity care.
  • Insurance companies may be able to place annual and lifetime limits on individual coverage.

In addition, hospitals could face significant losses, putting patient services at risk.

  • As part of the ACA, hospitals agreed to absorb $155 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement reductions with the understanding that more individuals would have access to insurance to help cover costs. The AHCA plan (as it stands today) would not reinstate hospital reimbursements rates prior to ACA, which would create substantial financial hardship when combined with the possibility of millions of uninsured Americans.
  • IHA reports the plan could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue over a multi-year period for hospitals, placing additional pressures on an already strained system.

Mercy CEO on Impact of AHCA on Iowans Covered by Medicaid

Iowa hospital leaders are concerned about what the American Health Care Act (AHCA) could mean for thousands of Iowans covered by Medicaid as well as for the future of their own hospitals and communities. A group of hospital leaders, including Mercy president and CEO, Tim Charles, gathered in Cedar Rapids on June 7, 2017, to talk about the potential impact of AHCA. Here are Tim Charles' comments:

To access more information, visit:

Mental Health in Iowa

Mental Health Quick Facts

Mental health advocacy is a top priority for awareness groups. Below are some facts from the IHA to aid advocates in educational efforts.

  • 1 in 5 Iowans will experience a mental illness this year, but less than half will receive treatment.
  • 123,000 adults live with a serious mental illness (that’s nearly the population of Cedar Rapids) and 80,000 children live with severe emotional disorders, yet Iowa has fewer mental health professionals than almost every other state.
  • Per the Treatment Advocacy Center, Iowa ranks last in the country for number of mental-health hospital beds available (that’s only two beds per 100,000 people).
  • People in crisis often turn to local hospital emergency rooms for help, but services are lacking when they return home.

To access more information visit:


Next Steps for Your Consideration:

  1. Contact lawmakers. Not sure where to start? Check out our list of contact information for your county, state and federal lawmakers.
  2. Call, write or email your legislators. Feel free to use our phone, letter and email templates to get started.


Overwhelmed by sources of information in our world today?

Learn how to identify reputable news in this article from FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

*This information is meant to aid in an individual’s advocacy efforts, not by or on behalf of Mercy.