Casey, Wolf fear GOP health bill will jeopardize Medicaid

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.

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.

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