Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Mikola De Roo , May 24, 2017
Late Wednesday afternoon on May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally released the CBO score of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the healthcare bill also known as TrumpCare, two weeks after it passed in the House of Representatives.
While the bill boasts $119 billion in savings over 10 years, the human cost is incalculable and catastrophic. As anticipated, this bill as written will result in millions of Americans losing coverage. The CBO states that 14 million people will be uninsured next year, and that figure will reach 23 million people over the next ten years.
The AHCA bill eligibility constraints, the huge numbers of Americans who will be left uninsured, combined with the cuts proposed on Tuesday in the Trump Administration’s FY 2018 budget, will have devastating effects on those most in need: low-income Americans with pre-existing and chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and HIV, who reside in every Congressional district across the nation.
As an organization dedicated to ending the AIDS epidemic, Housing Works is particularly concerned about the way cuts to Medicaid, HIV programs, and prevention programs will destroy years of effective, hard work and progress in the fight against the domestic HIV epidemic. “Congress should know better than to mess with success,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works. “New York, once the epicenter of the nation’s AIDS epidemic, knows the ravages of an unchecked epidemic firsthand. It’s only been through decades of activism, research, investment, and more recent innovations and collaborations between community, medical providers, and government, via supportive elected leaders like Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, that we’ve made unprecedented progress, reducing the rate of annual new HIV infections to below 2,500, and putting us well on the way to ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. This has been possible, in no small part, due to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers insured through ACA and money saved through Medicaid redesign and expansion. These new proposals and cuts put all of this in jeopardy, and we urge Leader Chuck Schumer to redouble his efforts to protect New Yorkers and indeed all Americans from this deadly bill.”
Our colleagues and allies across the nation are reacting similarly to the FY 2018 budgets cuts and the AHCA CBO score with dismay and anger:
“In Colorado, we have finally seen a year in which new HIV diagnoses have steeply declined,” said Barb Cardell, a board member of the Positive Women’s Network USA and elected co-chair of the Colorado Alliance for HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care after her appointment by Colorado’s Governor. “Colorado has made huge strides in retention in care through its Critical Events Service Program, which provides comprehensive services to people with HIV designed to overcome barriers to durable viral suppression, or undetectable status. Maintaining undetectable status keeps people living with HIV healthy and prevents further HIV transmission. Now, we are putting all our groundbreaking progress at risk. 588,000 working Coloradans would lose healthcare coverage with a repeal of the ACA. Of our 5.5 million residents, 2.3 million live with pre-existing conditions and could lose life-saving coverage. This is not acceptable. We must stop the madness of tax cuts for the wealthy that will kill people living with HIV and other chronic conditions.”
“We need to help more people, not hurt them! Congress must not pass a health bill that will reduce Medicaid funding for not only low-income residents and senior citizens, but also for the elderly who require care in nursing homes,” said Marillee Cunningham of West Virginia Taking Action, a defense analyst for a federally-funded research and development company and a 20-year retired member of the Navy Reserve. “West Virginia can’t afford to fund these eligible people without expanded Medicaid subsidies. We oppose anything that takes healthcare away or singles out older voters and people with pre-existing conditions.”
“Almost 50% of people with HIV depend on Medicaid, and 800,000 Pennsylvanians will lose benefits under the House bill,” said Philadelphia resident Jose DeMarco, a leader and longtime member of ACT UP who is living with HIV. “The proposed cuts to Medicaid will result in many avoidable deaths.”
All our colleagues also voiced that they will be holding their elected officials accountable, and that there will be consequences for members of Congress who vote to pass this deadly healthcare bill. “We will hold Senator Pat Toomey and other vulnerable GOP elected officials in Pennsylvania responsible,” added DeMarco. “Votes have consequences, and ACT UP will make sure those consequences are reflected at the PA polls come election time.”
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