May 4, 2017 1:46 pm

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns House vote in favor of the AHCA

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.

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives muscled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through to passage by the slim margin of 217-213. The vote came after several intense days of pressure from Congressional leaders to vote for the AHCA in spite of the opposition of millions of constituents and the entire health care sector. It is unfortunate that this pressure temporarily won out, but this careless, cruel, and tremendously unpopular bill still has far to go before becoming law. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition and the thousands of concerned citizens it represents will oppose it every step of the way.

“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,” said AIDS Foundation of Chicago President/CEO John Peller. “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 (Rep. Bost, Rep. Hultgren, Rep. Kinzinger, Rep. Davis, Rep. Shimkus and Rep. LaHood) supported it and we are frankly shocked at the reversal of so many promises to ensure those with pre-existing conditions were protected.

”The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition fiercely condemns this vote. Recent amendments to weaken protections against pre-existing condition discrimination made a bad bill even worse. Not only does it gut Medicaid and raise costs on older Americans by the thousands, it now lets insurance companies charge sick enrollees higher premiums, effectively pricing them out of care. Those with pre-existing conditions will be protected in name only and our health care system will return to the days where you can be denied care based on your health condition.

Simply put, this is a terrible bill that will cover fewer people, with weaker protections, at higher costs for Illinoisans.

The AHCA still has many procedural hurdles, including likely amendments in the Senate, floor debate and vote in the Senate, and a possible second vote in the House to accept changes from the Senate. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will continue to educate the public on the dangers of this bill and engage even more Illinoisans in the fight to protect Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. We implore Governor Rauner to speak out against the AHCA as it is voted on in the Senate and for the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to vote against this bill if and when it returns to the House for a final vote.

Protect Our Care – Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working 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.