Washington, DC – As the U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution that begins the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Arc released the following statement and background information on why the law is critical for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD):
“Repealing the ACA without a replacement turns back the clock to a time when too many people with disabilities were discriminated against in the health insurance market. For those who were lucky enough to find affordable coverage, many were faced life and death care decisions because of arbitrary financial limits under those plans, or were stuck with service or support options that segregated them from the community.
“All people with disabilities need comprehensive, affordable care – the ACA took our country a giant step forward toward accomplishing this goal. The Arc has long supported expanding Medicaid coverage to adults and raising the income eligibility. Due to those changes, millions of Americans, including people with disabilities, gained access to affordable, comprehensive health care.
“This is about people’s lives – their health, independence, financial stability, and so much more. The clock is ticking for millions of Americans, including people with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.
The ACA made significant progress in expanding access to health care for individuals with IDD. The ACA allowed states to extend their Medicaid programs to childless adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. This change has provided coverage to individuals with IDD and other disabilities and chronic health conditions who were not otherwise eligible for Medicaid, were in the waiting period for Medicare, or did not have access to employer sponsored health insurance because they were not working or working in low wage jobs without benefits.
- The ACA provided federal money to support Medicaid expansion. The additional federal contribution to expanding Medicaid has helped many people with disabilities access health care. It has also enabled states to continue and expand programs that provide supports and services to people with IDD.
- Several provisions of the ACA were designed to assist states to rebalance their long term supports systems, allowing more people with IDD to receive the services and supports they need while living in the community instead of costly and outdated institutions. These include the Community First Choice Option (CFC) and the State Plan Home and Community-Based Services Option (also known as 1915(k) and 1915(i).
- The ACA reversed years of discrimination against people with disabilities and chronic health conditions through its insurance reforms. Prior to the ACA, when people with disabilities or chronic health conditions tried to purchase health insurance in the individual market they often could not obtain coverage at all because of their pre-existing conditions; others faced sky high premiums, or were only granted very limited coverage.