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​Urge House Members to Oppose the American Health Care Act and MacArthur Amendment

April 27, 2017

On March 17, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society issued an opposition statement to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Today, we reiterate that opposition.  While the Affordable Care Act and our nation’s healthcare system are not perfect, the AHCA would reverse progress made in  providing Americans—including people living with MS—quality, affordable health coverage. 
  • Under AHCA, 24 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026. 
  • The AHCA would roll back Medicaid expansion; change Medicaid’s financing structure to a per capita cap—forcing states to make service and/or population cuts; and weaken support that makes coverage more affordable. 
  • The recent MacArthur amendment would do even further harm to people living with chronic illness and disabilities. 
Despite lawmakers’ assurances that protections for people with pre-existing conditions will be preserved, the amendment to the AHCA would eliminate critical protections such as the nationwide standard of ‘essential health benefits.’ These essential health benefits include required coverage for prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, rehabilitation, mental health services and more.  This loss would be troublesome for people with MS who have complex healthcare needs and require access to a variety of services and specialists to live their best lives. 
  • If states define Essential Health Benefits on their own, other vital protections including the ban on lifetime and annual limits and caps on out-of-pocket costs could also be lost.  
  • People insured through employer plans and who purchased coverage through the Marketplace could lose most of these protections as well, resulting in medical bankruptcies and severe hardship on many average American households—particularly those with high-cost conditions like MS.    
Another current requirement that states could seek to waive would allow insurers to charge people with pre-exiting conditions more for their coverage.

The failure of the 35 state high-risk pools of the past should serve as lessons about the un-affordable costs and operational challenges of segregating people with high-cost needs rather than merging them into larger risk pools. 

We urge Congress to oppose the American Health Care Act and work with stakeholders to develop legislation that moves our nation’s health insurance system forward—not backward. Contact your member of Congress today.

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.