Congressional Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) before it could be considered by the House last Friday, because they did not have enough votes to pass. The AHCA legislation intended to repeal major pieces of the Affordable Care Act and severely reduce funding for Medicaid. If the AHCA had become law, Virginia's Medicaid program would have faces steep cuts, leaving some health care services - including oral health - at tremendous risk. Nationally, the AHCA would have caused 26 million Americans to lose coverage by 2026.
Now that the AHCA is no longer on the table, what does this mean for Virginia?
Grassroots advocacy works.
Congressional Republicans heard loud and clear from their constituents that this legislation was bad for Americans' health and our economy. Each of you who took the time to share information or contact a representative is responsible for protecting coverage and defeating the legislation. We should all celebrate this effort!
And, vigilance is necessary.
After a deep breath, we must continue to educate ourselves and our elected officials about the health and economic benefits of affordable, comprehensive health care that is inclusive of oral health. While the AHCA did not pass, there will be other efforts to change Medicaid and revisit how health care is access and provided in the U.S. Of note, Congress has not addressed FAMIS funding (known as "CHIP" federally); this funding will expire in September and, without it, over 104,000 children and 4,000 pregnant women will likely lose medical and dental coverage.
The Virginia Oral Health Coalition staff and board will work with our partners to share data, research, and information so that we are all prepared to continue efforts to protect and expand access to affordable, comprehensive health care that is inclusive of oral health. We will also thank our Virginia representatives who opposed the AHCA because it limited coverage for Virginians; this includes all of Virginia's Democratic representatives as well as Republican representatives Barbara Comstock and Rob Wittman. Representatives Dave Brat and Tom Garrett also opposed the AHCA; they indicated it was too generous in its support for underserved populations.