The American Health Care Act, which squeaked through the House of Representatives on Thursday, is terrible for many Americans in many ways. But what’s gotten almost no attention is the horrendous effect it could have on Americans in nursing homes.
Daniel Webster, a Republican representative from the 11th Congressional District in central Florida, acknowledged this when he announced he would vote for the AHCA.
“I have been very concerned about Florida’s Medicaid-funded nursing home beds,” Webster said. “These are critical to the access some of our senior population has to our nursing homes.”
Webster explained he was only willing to vote yes because President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the House of Representatives’ GOP leadership promised that they would find some way to deal with the potential disaster created by the bill. It will now go to the Senate, and if some version of it is passed there, will then have to be reconciled with the House bill for a final vote.
Many middle-class Americans are unaware that the huge cost of nursing home care — which in some areas can run over $100,000 a year — is not covered by Medicare. Those who need it and cannot pay for it themselves can generally receive coverage from Medicaid, though they usually must spend down all their savings first.
When all is said and done, Medicaid pays the bills for over 60 percent of nursing home residents — people who cannot care for themselves and without Medicaid would have literally nowhere to go.
But the AHCA slashes $880 billion dollars from Medicaid spending over the next ten years, or about one-sixth of the $5 trillion it would otherwise cost the federal government. (While these seem like enormous numbers, the U.S. economy is so big that even $5 trillion will be just about two percent of the gross domestic product over the next decade.)