Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Mississippians have watched with great concern as possible changes to health care in the United States unfold. Those who drafted the Senate bill are determined to throw much of the responsibility for health care back to the states, which have not always proved up to the task.
We believe that our elected officials want good things for citizens of our challenged state. However, supporting a health-care plan that provides big tax cuts for the wealthy but only very limited options for actual health care for those most in need would be a tragic mistake.
It is time to put our people and state over party and donors and help Mississippians be healthier and more productive.
Legislation with such massive potential impact should be debated extensively and thoroughly with broad input. Yet legislators drafted the Senate bill in secret and failed to weigh concerns from relevant experts and stakeholders. As a result, organizations such as the AARP, American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of American Medical Colleges and many others have criticized the American Health Care Act. These entities highlight the devastating impact of Medicaid cuts on services for children and the elderly. In Mississippi children are the largest group of Medicaid recipients.
In the state, 34 percent of non-elderly adults and around half of elderly adults have pre-existing conditions, and while the Senate version would require insurance companies to continue covering pre-existing conditions, that is deceptive. The bill would allow states to waive the federal mandate regarding which conditions are covered, meaning that many conditions may no longer be covered so, in reality, those currently insured may be unable to get policies that would actually help them.
Further, the Senate version would allow states to drop Affordable Care Act-mandated coverage for maternity care, mental health and emergency services. Plus, it could devastate hospitals across our state that have already been teetering on the brink.
Both the House and Senate approaches to health care will severely harm the vast majority of Mississippians. Ask our representatives in Congress to act on behalf of the greater good for Mississippians.
Gail Tapscott is a native Mississippian and retired minister.