We need a healthcare system that works for ALL of us -- not just the healthy and wealthy

Congressional GOP bill would threathen healthcare access for millions

As anticipated, Republicans in Congress unveiled legislation that represents healthcare for the healthy and wealthy but ignores the healthcare needs and pocketbooks of working people and middle class Americans.


The legislation doesn't replace the Affordable Care Act, nor does it fix or improve the current law. It simply paves the way to take health insurance coverage and critical health care away from millions of Pennsylvanians and other Americans.


The Republican bill would repeal some of the most important pieces of the Affordable Care Act, the ones that led to more than 20 million people gaining insurance since that law's enactment in 2010 -- including 1 million Pennsylvanians.


Republicans get rid of the individual mandate. While the mandate was unpopular, it also was the key to making sure that young, healthy people were in the insurance market and premiums were kept affordable for everyone. Without the mandate, there is no mechanism to keep insurance care costs reasonable, since the Republican plan does not address rising medical or prescription costs in any way. 


While the Republican plan keeps the ACA requirement that insurers accept everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, it allows insurance companies to charge a 30 percent surcharge to anyone who drops coverage and then needs to re-enroll. This will allow insurance companies to make millions in excess profits while keeping many people from getting coverage when they become sick.


The subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, which were based on income and allowed millions of people to afford insurance who were not able to before, will be replaced in the Republican plan with subsidies based on age. So, senior citizens with much higher incomes will receive larger subsidies than working adults with lower incomes. This system rewards the wealthy over middle class working people, and does nothing for families who really need help in being able to afford coverage.


The Republican plan would freeze Medicaid expansion in 2020 and phase it out over time. Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act is responsible for more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians gaining insurance coverage, and the loss of federal dollars connected to Medicaid expansion could devastate the state's healthcare budget and economy.


In 2015, hospitals saved $1.8 billion by caring for newly covered people and, as a result, were able to hire 15,500 employees that year alone. There are 4,422 more physicians, 601 more dentists and 444 more certified registered nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania today compared with April 2015, when Medicaid expansion took place.


Planned Parenthood also would be defunded for one year under the Republican bill, cutting off access for tens of thousands of women who rely on the provider for family planning and other women's healthcare services.


The Republican plan is written for insurance companies and wealthy people instead of Americans in need of affordable health insurance and quality health care.


We need a healthcare system that works for all of us, not just insurance company CEOs and the wealthy and well-connected who already have coverage or can afford to purchase it regardless of cost.


Congress needs to reject his scheme, take a new way forward and put you and your family first.