Governor Wolf, Administration Officials Urge Senators to Reject Graham-Cassidy Health Care Reform Proposal

September 22, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and members of his administration today urged Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to reject the seriously flawed Graham-Cassidy health care reform proposal, citing its devastating effects on millions of Pennsylvanians, many of whom have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion implemented under Gov. Wolf.

“The recent Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace health reform “compromise” proposal is anything but a compromise.  This plan includes the same “mean” provisions as the other reforms floated this year, which will result in loss of care for our most vulnerable residents, including seniors, individuals battling addiction, and children and adults with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. We implore you to reject Senator Graham’s and Senator Cassidy’s dangerous proposal that jeopardizes the wellbeing of the 12 million Pennsylvanians we serve and instead focus your efforts on stabilizing the insurance marketplace.”

The letter, signed by Gov. Wolf and acting commissioner for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Jessica Altman, and acting secretary for the Department of Human Services, Teresa Miller, reiterates that the Graham-Cassidy proposal contains many of the same flawed components of the failed earlier repeal-and-replace attempts by Congress.

“Like the other “reform” bills, this proposal establishes a per-capita cap on Medicaid and ends Medicaid expansion, harms older Pennsylvanians by imposing what truly is an age tax, and threatens our most vulnerable by reducing protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. But these provisions are even more extreme and will cost Pennsylvania severely.

“In addition to forcing our seniors and those with chronic illness to pay more for less, this legislation shifts significant financial responsibility on to states. According to Avalere Health, Pennsylvania would lose $15 billion in federal funding by 2027 if Graham-Cassidy is passed. This extreme shift in funding will result in a fiscal crisis beyond what Pennsylvania has experienced to date. We would be tasked with replacing these federal funds or be forced to cut services, reduce provider payments, or eliminate coverage for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

The letter outlines Pennsylvania’s significant progress on providing affordable and accessible health care with the Affordable Care Act, and advises the senators that the only way forward is a bi-partisan approach as presented in a letter to Congressional leaders from Gov. Wolf and a group of bi-partisan governors.

“Instead of going down yet another rabbit hole that could lead to devastating outcomes for residents across Pennsylvania, we urge you to do the responsible thing and work with Senators Alexander and Murray to enact the reforms – like mandating cost sharing reductions – that I, along with a group of bi-partisan governors, have proposed. Our proposal would stabilize the market in the short-term and, through bipartisan compromises, ensure the long-term health of individual markets around the country.

We have advocated throughout this process for a bipartisan solution that builds off of the progress made with the Affordable Care Act. Once again, we urge you to oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal and instead stand with Pennsylvania residents in supporting a responsible solution.”

Read full text of the letter below. You can also view the letter on Scribd and as a PDF.

Dear Senators Casey and Toomey:

The recent Graham-Cassidy repeal and replace health reform “compromise” proposal is anything but a compromise. This plan includes the same “mean” provisions as the other reforms floated this year, which will result in loss of care for our most vulnerable residents, including seniors, individuals battling addiction, and children and adults with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. We implore you to reject Senator Graham’s and Senator Cassidy’s dangerous proposal that jeopardizes the wellbeing of the 12 million Pennsylvanians we serve and instead focus your efforts on stabilizing the insurance marketplace.

Due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid Expansion, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate is at a historic low of 5.6 percent. If the Graham-Cassidy proposal is adopted, we know this positive trend will be reversed and the commonwealth’s uninsured rate will skyrocket.  While the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not have an opportunity to provide a full picture of how this plan will impact insurance rates, as noted above, many of the provisions in the Graham-Cassidy proposal were previously considered in House and Senate bills. Those bills would have, according to CBO estimates, resulted in anywhere between 23 million and 32 million Americans losing health care coverage by 2026. And, according to the Center for American Progress, the Graham-Cassidy plan will lead to more than one million Pennsylvanians losing health care coverage, taking them back to the days of seeking routine treatment in emergency rooms.

Like the other “reform” bills, this proposal establishes a per-capita cap on Medicaid and ends Medicaid expansion, harms older Pennsylvanians by imposing what truly is an age tax, and threatens our most vulnerable by reducing protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. But these provisions are even more extreme and will cost Pennsylvania severely.

In addition to forcing our seniors and those with chronic illness to pay more for less, this legislation shifts significant financial responsibility on to states. According to Avalere Health, Pennsylvania would lose $15 billion in federal funding by 2027 if Graham-Cassidy is passed. This extreme shift in funding will result in a fiscal crisis beyond what Pennsylvania has experienced to date. We would be tasked with replacing these federal funds or be forced to cut services, reduce provider payments, or eliminate coverage for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

The most likely outcome would be wrestling with the impossible decision of who should receive health care – a child born with a disability? A young adult struggling with an opioid addiction who needs our help to receive recovery services? A mom fighting cancer? A senior who has worked hard all his life and needs access to quality health care to age with dignity? We do not know the answer and are hopeful that you will take the responsible position of voting “no” to Graham-Cassidy so that no Pennsylvania leader ever has to make a decision about who deserves health care and who can go without.

Instead of going down yet another rabbit hole that could lead to devastating outcomes for residents across Pennsylvania, we urge you to do the responsible thing and work with Senators Alexander and Murray to enact the reforms – like appropriating funds for cost-sharing reductions– that I, along with a group of bi-partisan governors, have proposed. Our proposal would stabilize the market in the short-term and, through bipartisan compromises, ensure the long-term health of individual markets around the country.

We have advocated throughout this process for a bipartisan solution that builds off of the progress made with the ACA. Once again, we urge you to oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal and instead stand with Pennsylvania residents in supporting a responsible solution.

Sincerely,

TOM WOLF

Governor

Teresa O. Miller

Acting Secretary of the Department of Human Services

Jessica K. Altman

Acting Insurance Commissioner

Wold Administration Letter to Senators Casey and Toomey Regarding Graham-Cassidy by Governor Tom Wolf on Scribd

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