Today, Pennsylvania House Republicans are planning a sneak attack on our healthcare that we must defeat. We have built one of the strongest Medicaid healthcare programs in the country. It is efficient, with yearly cost increases significantly lower than the national average, and provides high quality care to children, seniors, people with disabilities, and low income adults in an effective, straight-forward way. Pennsylvania House Republicans want to pass a bill that will undo this progress and create lots of bureaucratic red tape and additional burdens on both families and the state.
A vote could happen as early as 11:00 AM on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Pennsylvania House Bill 59 is positioned to push our Medicaid program in a direction which harms everyday working people by implementing three “fixes” to nonexistent problems.
The bill proposes work requirements, but most Medicaid recipients are already working. Fifty-eight percent of Medicaid Expansion recipients are working themselves and nearly 3 in 4 of them are in working households. More than half of those on traditional Medicaid work. People on Medicaid work. This bill makes hardworking people jump through additional layers of red tape. People will get stuck in paper-chases or processing errors that will negate all their hard work by cutting them off from the care they need. Working Pennsylvanians deserve better.
The bill proposes lock-ins to managed care plans, but only one percent of enrollees change their plan. Federal law requires that people can change their plans due to medical reasons and most of those in that tiny percent who do change their plans have just cause. This means that Pennsylvania will set up a costly, time consuming system that drains administrative resources. People with serious medical needs will get stuck in a plan that denies them the care they need. Vulnerable Pennsylvanians need to keep the flexibility they have.
The bill also opens the door to other harmful changes in the future. If any estimates or spending projections are wrong, Medicaid enrollees would potentially pay higher costs or premiums in the future. Medicaid recipients are already paying co-pays. These changes would stretch limited incomes even further. The bill already has a provision that assesses premiums on higher income children with disabilities, and it is only a matter of time before those premiums and co-pays start affecting those with low to moderate incomes. We shouldn’t close future budget gaps by increasing the healthcare costs on those who need healthcare the most.
In the end, these proposals create new bureaucratic red tape for ordinary folks when they need coverage to keep them healthy and working. They are based on a bunch of false assumptions and costly proposals that drain necessary resources and squander precious administrative oversight from already burdened state employees. Overseeing work requirements on 1.6 million adults, the majority of whom are working, will cost a lot of time and money. Lock-ins will create expensive and lengthy administrative and appeals processes. Additional cost sharing and premiums are likely to force people to delay care, making them sicker and more costly in the future. These proposals are a bad deal for Pennsylvania and should be rejected by the General Assembly.