Changes to Medicaid in Republican proposals for health care reform could cause insurance rates to go up for everyone, according to Rep. Kathy Castor.
That’s because millions would lose health insurance, said Castor, a Tampa Democrat who spoke out against the changes Monday at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Tampa.
People without health insurance who get sick tend to go to hospitals for care. But when they can’t pay, Castor says hospitals raise rates for those who can pay -- and that makes insurance premiums and other health care costs increase.
"So if you have insurance currently, you want your neighbors to have insurance and get covered and I'm afraid this bill goes backward," Castor said.
About 3.6 million Floridians depend on Medicaid, including pregnant women, people with disabilities, seniors in nursing homes and about half of the state's children.
Republicans have talked for years about repealing Obamacare and lowering the cost of health care. But none campaigned on slashing Medicaid coverage, Castor said.
"I heard no one on the stump out there saying, we're going to target kids, were going to target seniors in nursing homes, the disabled community for cuts and that's our campaign platform," Castor said. “Instead, they are using this repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act as a guise to change the Medicaid program like never before.”
Special interests were likely responsible for pushing the changes Medicaid that were included in the House and Senate health care reform bills, Castor said.
Under the House proposal, the changes would result in about $800 billion less for Medicaid. The Senate bill would result in $772 billion less for the program.
The biggest changes to the program come from caps on spending and a change in the way Medicaid money is dispersed to states.
Castor and other Democrats have said that the cuts to Medicaid would help fund tax breaks for insurance companies and wealthy Americans.