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HAP Urges U.S. Senate to Reconsider Updated Health Care Plan

July 13, 2017

The U.S. Senate today released an updated version of legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), that would partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make significant changes to the financing of Medicaid.

The Senate’s updated health care plan does not make necessary changes to the BCRA that will improve access to care, protect vital coverage under the Medicaid program, or safeguard key consumer protections benefiting patients. The legislation will phase-out enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion, institute capped funding for Medicaid, scale back subsidies that support low-income individuals in gaining coverage, and weaken critical consumer protections that guarantee meaningful access to care.

In a statement issued by HAP, the association urges the Senate to reconsider this fundamentally flawed policy and protect Pennsylvania’s health and health care.

HAP’s President and CEO, Andy Carter, stated, “This plan, like the U.S. House-passed American Health Care Act and the U.S. Senate’s first released BCRA will harm the most vulnerable and at-risk Pennsylvanians, including children, those with disabilities, seniors, and low-income individuals and families.

“More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians have benefited from coverage and improved health as a result of the Affordable Care Act; this plan jeopardizes these gains and weakens the Medicaid program. This proposal will undermine the health of Pennsylvania patients, hurt our economy, and jeopardize health care jobs and services,” Carter said.

The policy modifications released today include the following changes to BCRA:

  • Providing $45 billion for state grants to support substance use disorder and recovery support services, and research on addiction and pain related to the substance abuse crisis
  • Allowing insurers that offer ACA-compliant plans to also sell insurance coverage that does not include consumer protections such coverage of pre-existing conditions
  • Offering relief from per capita and block grant Medicaid funding limitations during a declared public health emergency
  • An increase of $70 billion in funding for state efforts to address increased health care costs for consumers
  • Allowing Health Savings Accounts to be used to pay for premiums and permitting tax credits to support the purchase of catastrophic and high deductible plans
  • Retaining ACA taxes on net investment income, the Medicare payroll tax on high earners, as well as a tax on some health insurance executives

It is unclear if the changes in the bill will attract the necessary 50 votes for the Senate to pass the legislation. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score is not expected until next week and the Senate parliamentarian must rule on the viability of several of the new provisions. Senate leaders intend to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote next week.

A coalition of providers representing the full breadth of health care providers in Pennsylvania have shared concerns with Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation and two U.S. Senators in joint letters on May 2, June 7, June 21, and June 28.

Questions regarding federal advocacy efforts may be directed to Laura Stevens Kent, vice president, federal advocacy.

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