Defend Medicaid and Community Health Centers

Monday, June 26, 2017

San Leandro, CA – Alameda Health Consortium Executive Director Ralph Silber released the following statement in response to the Better Care Reconciliation Act – the Senate’s ACA repeal bill.

“Without the Affordable Care Act, I wouldn’t be here.”  We’ve heard this stark declaration from many of our community health center patients. Their testimony should leave no doubt that lives are at stake in the attempt to repeal the ACA in an unprecedented attack on our underserved neighbors. We must defeat the Better Care Reconciliation Act, now under Senate consideration. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 22 million Americans would lose coverage in the next decade should this bill become law.

In opposing repeal, we are also fighting to defend community health centers, Medicaid and other lifesaving benefits for those who need it most. Without access to care for our most vulnerable patients, everyone’s health is at risk.  Across our nation half of all births are covered by Medicaid along with nearly two-thirds of all nursing home residents. Close to 40 percent of all children in the US are Medicaid patients.

Here at home in the East Bay, our network of community health centers is making a difference in people’s lives every day.  Thanks to the ACA we are preventing liver cancer by treating people for Hep C. We are tackling the opioid epidemic and extending dental and behavioral health care. None of these services should be considered a luxury for anyone. Community health centers, fueled by the ACA and Medicaid, help people get back to work and give back to their communities as volunteers.  Most importantly, we are preventing unnecessary and untimely deaths.

While we stand up for our health center patients, we also want to remind them that the ACA is still the law of the land. The Senate bill must first be voted in, reconciled with the House bill and then signed by the President.   There will be a transition period before any changes in law impact coverage, and we urge qualified neighbors to continue to enroll in health insurance, CalFresh, and other programs for which they are eligible. Do not delay getting care when it is needed. It is critically important that everyone continue to use and access their health benefits before a condition becomes urgent.

We are here to serve all patients in the region, to assist them with getting coverage, and to provide them with access to quality care.  Community health centers have worked very hard to contribute to a reduction in California’s uninsured rate from 17% to 8%. We are committed to continuing the fight to preserve our patients’ care. By opposing the repeal of the ACA, we urge Congress to join us in saving lives.

About Alameda Health Consortium: Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) advocates for high quality health care for the underserved in the East Bay.  As the regional association of community health centers in Alameda County, we collaborate with policymakers to inform, shape and implement health policy.