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Casey, Wolf fear GOP health bill will jeopardize Medicaid

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Republican proposals wouldn't just be bad for Americans' health care, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey warns, but "a job-killer" that would put more than $440 million in midstate Medicaid funding at risk.

In a joint press conference Thursday with fellow Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, Casey elaborated on concerns he raised earlier in the week: A GOP House bill, and similar legislation being prepared in the Senate, could lead to the loss of 85,000 Pennsylvania jobs over the coming decade, including 52,500 in the health care industry, if federal Medicaid funding is slashed to the extent Republicans are proposing.

Casey added to those numbers on Thursday with the release of county-by-county statistics about Medicaid funding across Pennsylvania, money that he said would be put at risk:

• Cumberland County – $69.8 million, serving 1,969 adults.

• Dauphin County – $81.2 million, serving 2,124 adults

• Lancaster County – $143.1 million, serving 3,782 adults

• Lebanon County – $49 million, serving 1,279 adults

• York County – $97.4 million, serving 2,745 adults

Medicaid is a joint federal–state program that provides health care and nursing home coverage to low-income people, and is administered in Pennsylvania by the Department of Human Services.

House Republicans' American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed last month, would cut Medicaid spending nationwide by $834 billion over 10 years and "radically restructure the program," Casey said.

Medicaid spending in Pennsylvania for fiscal year 2015-16 was $25.9 billion, comprised of $15.3 billion in federal funding and about $10.6 billion in state funding.

Casey chided Republican senators for the secretive nature of talks on the bill, but said he understands from conversations with members that the proposals are substantially similar to the House bill.

"That's an ominous sign," Casey said.

"But we are still in the dark as to what is actually going to come out of the Senate," Wolf added.

The governor took aim at members of Congress who have suggested that states worried about Medicaid funding will come up with ways to replace lost federal money.

"That’s flawed logic and shows an incredible lack of care and concern," Wolf said.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey this week argued that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Office of the Actuary came up with much different estimates for the bill's impact than the Congressional Budget Office data at the heart of the job-loss report cited by Casey.

A spokesman for Toomey this week told the Business Journal that the senator believes it's "more urgent than ever that we repeal and replace Obamacare," as the Affordable Care Act is known.

Wolf criticized that view, saying the act had enabled 750,000 more Pennsylvanians to have access to health insurance over the past two years.

"What are you going to do, simply take away their health insurance?" he asked.

"If the answer is, 'sorry, you don't have health insurance anymore,' that's a problem," Wolf said.

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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Cheryl June 19, 2017 3:32 pm

I'm not saying I agree with what the Republicans are doing, but their approach of not sharing information across the aisle seems vaguely familiar. Maybe this can be used as an opportunity to change how things have been operating in DC. I'd love to see some of this us vs them mentality go away. Both sides need to start showing more concern for their constituents rather than serving the needs/wants of a specific party. I think they truly do want the best but it gets lost in all the politics and all we end up with is a lot of bipartisanship and things moving very slowly, if and when they do.

tmsky June 18, 2017 8:02 am

many thanks
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Alan June 16, 2017 2:54 pm

The democrats are just worried about loosing something they think they have control of. Wolf and Casey are ineffective and have little clue, influence or ability to make any changes..they had their chance, now let Trump and the republicans take a whack at it...go Scott Wagner for Governor!

Joe McCorkel June 16, 2017 1:32 pm

And if the insurance stays the same as it has been, raising rates by 15% to 30% per year it will leave more and more people in the poverty level, it has to drastically change. I as an employer have seen the rates triple in the last 5 years. Talking to my employees who say that they cannot afford higher deductibles and higher prices. Legislators have to open their eyes and realize that it has to be stopped! Why don't the legislators go on board with the same insurance coverage as the rest of the population and then their eyes will be opened and finally agree!

BobA June 16, 2017 12:33 pm

So if this is TRUE, for Lancaster County, that is over $37,800 per PERSON!!!
No wonder we are 20 TRILLION in debt. Fix this, its broken!!!
43,000,000
3,782
--------------------------
37,810.68

David Zetter June 16, 2017 12:16 pm

I thought CPBJ would be more investigative in its reporting than to just report the comments from Casey which are, at a minimum, misguided and inaccurate.

BB June 16, 2017 12:11 pm

$440m cut to a $25B expense- sound like the right direction

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