June 22, 2017
Today, the U.S. Senate released its legislative plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is the next step in the process after the House-passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in May. The Senate's draft bill, entitled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," contains many of the harmful provisions opposed by the Academy, along with the vast majority of organizations representing health care providers, patients, hospitals and the elderly, in the AHCA.
As it stands, the Senate discussion draft not only fails to improve the health of all Americans, but it will worsen patient care and public health by removing vital resources from the Prevention and Public Health Fund that are effective in improving health across the country. The Prevention Fund provides critical support for nutrition interventions led by our members to improve community health.
The Senate bill would allow states to block grant or utilize per capita caps for Medicaid spending, which would lead to reduced access to preventive services and major cuts to home and community-based services (HCBS). This reduction in Medicaid spending will result in fewer opportunities for patients to have access to RDNs within these states that cover nutrition services.
Additionally, allowing states to opt out of requiring that health plans cover the Essential Health Benefits would reduce access to these cost-saving services; allow insurers to charge people higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions like nutrition related diseases, including diabetes and heart disease; and increase out-of-pocket costs for vulnerable older adults.
The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 fails to meet the Academy's five tenets of healthcare, and the Academy strongly urges the Senate to oppose passage of the bill. We will be addressing the Senate bill and the importance of investing in nutrition services for prevention and treatment at our Public Policy Workshop, and we are also are asking members to take action today to make your voice heard. The Senate may be voting as early as next week, so timing is critical!Thank you for all of your work supporting the Academy's policy priorities, and please email Stefanie Winston Rinehart if you have any questions.