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PHAN Statement on Senate Vote

July 25, 2017

Despite overwhelming opposition from providers, experts, and the American people, the Senate votes to imperil America’s health care system

HARRISBURG — Today the Senate voted to begin debate on a mystery health care bill despite no public hearings, no full CBO score, and no final text of the bill. The specifics of their plan are unclear; the only certainty is loss of coverage for millions and billions of dollars in Medicaid cuts. Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network issued the following statement in response:

“Today’s vote to advance a mystery health care bill with no public hearings, no final text, and no full CBO score that would take health care away from millions of people and destabilize insurance markets is both dangerous policy and dangerous precedent.

Although we don’t know the specifics of the Republican plan, we do know that today’s vote moves forward one of several proposals that would take coverage from hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, send us back to a time when annual caps and lifetime limits are the norm, raise premiums and deductibles on millions and radically restructure Medicaid, resulting in significant cuts to a program that provides critical care to seniors, people with disabilities, and children. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department estimates that a repeal of just the individual mandate would spike premiums for 506,000 people in the individual market next year by 23.3%.

Lawmakers had seven years to come up with a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act. They haven’t. Moving to repeal a law that’s brought coverage, care, and peace of mind to millions of Americans without any agreement on what to replace it with shows the reckless disregard Senator Toomey and his colleagues have for lives and livelihoods of those they are elected to represent.

We are disappointed that Senator Toomey voted for this harmful plan to circumvent democratic norms and fast-track repeal of the Affordable Care Act, knowing that a majority of Americans want to keep the ACA and make it even stronger. Advancing a harmful bill that hasn’t been vetted, analyzed, or publicly debated isn’t how you deliver ‘better care’ for Americans. It’s how you imperil the entire American health care system — a system that represents a full sixth of the American economy — and the lives of hardworking families.

We echo the sentiment of a bipartisan group of Governors, including Pennsylvania’s own Governor Tom Wolf, who called on the Senate to focus on stabilizing insurance markets and reject any proposal that would leave millions more Americans uninsured.”

BACKGROUND:

Repealing the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement would:
Take health insurance away from 32 million Americans, including 956,000 in Pennsylvania
Raise health insurance premiums by 50% by 2026
Take away premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions that help working and middle-income families afford coverage and out-of-pocket costs
End Medicaid Expansion, which has been critical in the fight to curb the opioid epidemic

Repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” would:

Cut Medicaid by $772 billion in the next decade, drastically reducing the largest federal funding source to Pennsylvania, which will force state lawmakers to cut benefits, reduce eligibility, or take money from other priorities like schools, roads, and bridges to continue covering seniors, children, and people with disabilities
End Medicaid Expansion by 2026, which has helped more than 700,000 low-income Pennsylvanians — a majority of whom are working, but at jobs that don’t offer insurance — by gradually reducing funding
Strip life-saving consumer protections like the ban on denying people with pre-existing conditions coverage, capping care with lifetime and annual limits, and requiring insurers to cover prescription drugs and mental health treatment
Increase Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate by over 200% by 2022, as more than 1 million Pennsylvanians will lose health coverage.