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GOP Senate Bill Would Cut Health Care Coverage By 22 Million

June 27, 2017 1:21 p.m.

GOP Senate Bill Would Cut Health Care Coverage By 22 Million

GUEST:

Vernita Todd, senior vice president for external affairs, Health Center Partners of Southern California

Related Story: GOP Senate Bill Would Cut Health Care Coverage By 22 Million

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh it is Tuesday, June 27 . It is not clear if yesterday's numbers from the Congressional Budget Office were the reason that the Senate is delaying a vote on its healthcare bill but the numbers could not have helped. The Congressional Budget Office found that the Senate proposal would cause the number of Americans without health care coverage to rise by 22 million people in the next 10 years. Governor Jerry Brown railed against the bill and its CBO score on a conference call this morning.
This is bad for people. Millions and millions of people are going to suffer. That is a crazy thing for elected representatives to inflict on people.
Meanwhile San Diego health administrators are scrambling to figure out how the proposed changes would affect healthcare here. Joining the is for Nita Todd senior vice president for healthcare California. She is in Washington DC. Thank you for joining us.
It is my pleasure.
You are in Washington. How big of a surprise is this delay until after the recess?
It is not a surprise after the CBO report yesterday and so many lawmakers had come out in opposition on both sides of the issue. Had become pretty clear that the Senate leader was going to have trouble getting to 50 votes this quickly.
Any help us understand this report? For instance, when that estimate is that 22 million more people would be left uninsured what are they basing that on? What are the key factors in the Senate Bill that would raise the number of uninsured.
There are three basic things one is the decrease of the number of people on Medicaid or Medi-Cal in California because of the elimination of the expansion we would see many people losing their character the Medi-Cal program. That is going to represent a significant number. California for example 3.7 million Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal after the expansion. Many of those families will have to make choices. Secondly folks are removed from the individual mandate. When I say folks will be uninsured a portion of those folks will be uninsured because they choose to be. That is the point that we have to make and be clear so we are sure we are sharing the fact. Without the individual mandate some folks will be uninsured because they do not desire to have coverage. I believe the largest share of folks other than the Medi-Cal population he will do without are people who just cannot afford to purchase coverage. The help been given is less the coverage is less and the premiums are suggested to be higher. We believe that those families, many of them who are low income or just be a -- above low income will not have access to affordable quality healthcare.
The CBO also said the bill will decrease average premiums by about 20% quick that -- will that still be too high for the people you are talking about?
It will decrease premiums but it will also decrease benefits. There will be a higher deductible in order to do that. People are looking at Doctor bulls that are still pretty expensive to them. With these lower-cost premiums meaning $10,000 of out-of-pocket cost for you prior to your insurance kicking and. We have families that may be able to buy catastrophic plans but if that young lady by the plan and has a baby or gets pregnant the maternity care is not covered in that. She cannot be expected to pay another $17,000.
What did the CBO say about people who get healthcare through their employers?
Scarily enough the changes that they make in the better care reconciliation act people with employer-based insurance are not immune from the changes in the slot. -- In this law. One thing about that protections go away and limits and out-of-pocket cost and free preventive services. There is also a concern that employers are no longer mandated to provide you insurance that they could go back to offering catastrophic plans that do not cover the needs and services that your family needs and so your insurance if you have it through your employer is at play now as well. It is not only Medicaid.
Vernita, you spoke earlier about the idea that some people may be able to afford insurance plans that have extremely high deductibles and do not really provide that much coverage. The Senate bill let's states take waivers so insurance companies can provide those kinds of policies. They would not have to offer coverage for certain conditions like mental health or like you were saying maternity care. In a news conference today Governor Jerry Brown would not definitively say the California could get a waiter so insurance companies could offer catastrophic plans without mental health or maternity care.
California has really led the nation in the implementation and adoption of the affordable care act. It is something that our state legislatures believing that the residence in California believe in. However down the line as those but -- Medicaid start to become more real. What you find as you begin to pit populations against each other. What the 40% cost covers beneficiary -- Medicare beneficiaries. 11 elderly population and a disabled children against a poor groups and -- prison population against children against working adults. At some point you will have to cut benefits or talk about eligibility or you will have to find ways to make this stretch. Breast California is a beacon of light in this fight when it comes down to a $20 billion loss that the GDP of California could face over the years I can imagine that tough decisions will have to be made by legislators. I cannot imagine that they would want to offer those waivers but there will come a point when 14 million people on the Medicaid program in California with limited dollars you have to make as good a decision as he can to keep what you do have go in. It is unlikely but it is not out of the realm of possibility.
I have been speaking with Vernita Todd senior vice president for the Health Center partners of Southern California. She is in Washington DC thank you very much.
Hope you have a great day.