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​National MS Society Disappointed with House Vote, Urges Senate to Protect Patients

May 4, 2017

The National MS Society is bitterly disappointed by the outcome of today’s House vote in support of the American Health Care Act. People living with MS and their families will be significantly harmed if the American Health Care Act becomes law, and will surely be among those to lose coverage and care as tax credits are slashed, Medicaid is weakened, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions are eroded. The Society has and will continue to advocate for improvements to health coverage that meet the needs of people with MS. 

Bari Talente, Exec VP of Advocacy for the Society stated “This vote brings uncertainty for people with MS and others with pre-existing conditions whose wellbeing--and sometimes, lives--depend on affordable and comprehensive coverage. The Society is extremely disappointed to see the House pass legislation that jeopardizes coverage and care for those with MS and relies on underfunded and failed insurance experiments -- like high-risk pools. This measure will increase the number of uninsured Americans by more than 20 million and substantially weaken Medicaid. That is unacceptable and moves our country backwards, not forward.”  

People with MS can only live their best lives with the assurance of access to prescription drugs that delay disease progression and disability, rehabilitation therapies to help maintain function and prevent falls, symptom management, professional medical and mental health services, mobility devices and more. These are components of high quality MS care that are currently included in the essential health benefits  now put at risk by the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  Also at risk are critical protections including annual caps on out-of-pocket costs, plus prohibitions against lifetime and annual caps on benefits.  

Changes to Medicaid—including changing its financing structure to a per capita cap and phasing out Medicaid expansion—are estimated to reduce support for Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years. Cuts of this magnitude will force states to cut eligibility, services or provider payments – all of which will likely harm access to MS care for Medicaid enrollees and hospital-based MS clinics. 

We now turn to the Senate in the hope they will act responsibly and swiftly to preserve the individual health insurance market and Medicaid program.  We stand ready to work with the Senate and urge them to consider the real experiences and perspectives of people who rely on America’s health insurance system and deserve better than the American Health Care Act.   

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.