Education leaders urged to continue voicing concerns as Senate GOP delays vote on health care bill

Senate Republican leaders Tuesday announced a delay in voting on the health care bill, which gives education leaders more opportunities to let their congressional representatives hear their concerns about proposals that would reduce Medicaid spending, which could impact thousands of Kansas schoolchildren.

“It is extremely important that school leaders and education advocates stay alert to fast-moving changes on the federal level on health care, changes that could have a big impact on our schools and students,” KASB Executive Director John Heim said.

Republicans in the U.S. House have already approved a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Senate GOP leaders have composed an alternative proposal, although they announced delaying a vote on that measure until after the July 4 recess.

But both bills, while seeking to repeal what is commonly called Obamacare, would also reduce Medicaid. Reductions in Medicaid could threaten health care for low-income Kansans, including children attending Kansas schools.

To voice your concerns, please use this contact information for the Kansas Congressional delegation:

Sen. Pat Roberts: Phone: (202)-224-4774
Sen. Jerry Moran: Phone: (202)-224-6521
Rep. Roger Marshall: Phone: (202)-225-2715
Rep. Lynn Jenkins: Phone: (202) 225-6601
Rep. Kevin Yoder: Phone: (202) 225-2865
Rep. Ron Estes: Phone: (202) 225-6216

Prior to the announced delay in Senate action, Sen. Roberts had said he would support the Senate bill. On Tuesday, Sen. Moran said he didn’t support it, was pleased with the delay and that it was “time to take a step back and put the full legislative process to work.”

Moran added: “I remain committed to working with my colleagues and continuing conversations with patients and providers in Kansas to find a path forward that truly repeals and replaces Obamacare with a plan that makes certain Kansans will have access to more affordable and better quality healthcare.”

KASB urges Kansas education leaders to remain vigilant since the Senate bill, which emerged from closed-door meetings of a select group of Republican senators, may continue to be negotiated in secret as leaders have scheduled no hearings nor public meetings on the legislation. Please follow developments in the media, stay in contact with your senators and representatives and voice your concerns about any bill that would make it more difficult for Kansas children and their families to access health care. Any reduction in the health care of our children will negatively impact their ability to succeed in school.

On Monday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office evaluation of the Senate bill said it would leave 22 million more people without insurance after 10 years, including nearly 200,000 Kansans. That is slightly less than the 24 million who would be uninsured under the House plan. Medicaid spending would be cut by 26 percent over 10 years in the Senate plan.

Both measures have been criticized by doctors, hospitals and other health care groups.

Earlier, Republican leaders in the Senate wanted to vote on the bill before the July 4th recess. But several Republican senators said they couldn’t support it. Some said the legislation didn’t constitute a full repeal of the ACA while others said they were concerned about cuts to Medicaid. With no Democrats favoring the bill, GOP leadership cannot lose more than two Republican votes to approve the bill.

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