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HAP Urges Pennsylvania Delegation to Oppose Disruptive Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Proposal

September 21, 2017

HAP urged Pennsylvania’s federal lawmakers to reject the complex, sweeping proposal put forth by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) that would jeopardize health care coverage and protections relied upon by millions of Pennsylvanians. HAP called upon lawmakers to instead leverage bipartisan support for stabilizing the health insurance markets and promoting access to affordable health insurance and high quality care.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced the Senate will vote next week on the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In a letter sent to the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation by HAP President and CEO Andy Carter, he cautioned the proposal would “reduce Medicaid and other health spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, reallocate resources in a manner that would disadvantage Pennsylvania, and create an uncertain future for patients and health care providers.”

“Major financing changes would take effect in 2020—threatening the viability of hospitals serving communities across the state and undermining progress in quality improvement and investments in health care transformation that are ultimately the key to reducing health care costs.”

Specifically, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) proposal would:

  • Repeal funding provided under the ACA—premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments, and enhanced funding for the Medicaid expansion—and instead, provide states with a limited sum of money through a block grant starting in 2020
  • Impose on the Medicaid program a new financing mechanism that caps funding
  • Authorize waivers that could weaken core consumer protections such as the guarantee of access to coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and access to behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment
  • Repeal the individual and employer mandates without an alternative policy to encourage a healthy risk pool, which is likely to result in a death spiral of increasing premiums in the individual market

HAP expressed concern that the block grant approach and caps on Medicaid financing would fall short in meeting the needs of Pennsylvania to support current coverage, and weakened consumer protections would retreat on progress in supporting patients as they work to manage their health.

The proposal betrays the Pennsylvania hospital community’s guideposts of preserving coverage and protecting meaningful access to comprehensive coverage. More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians have benefited from coverage as a result of the ACA. And, for millions more in our state, coverage protections included in the ACA have meant the ability of individuals with pre-existing conditions to access affordable health coverage, receive preventative services, and receive treatment for behavioral health and substance abuse.

HAP calls on all Pennsylvania hospitals and patients to contact the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation and urge them to reject the GCHJ proposal and to work in a bipartisan manner to preserve access to affordable health insurance coverage and high quality care.

Please contact Laura Stevens Kent, vice president, federal advocacy, or Jeff Bechtel, senior vice president, health economics and policy, for more information.

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