As U.S. Senators passed a bill that would allow them to continue debating over a replacement for the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and other top Pennsylvania officials warned that the bill would leave hundreds of thousands in the state uninsured.
Since the ACA become law in 2012, 700,000 people have received coverage in Pennsylvania. According to Wolf, 125,000 of those people are receiving treatment for opioid addiction. In a conference call with Wolf and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that the new law will leave those battling addiction without a care plan.
“The bill actually eliminates the guaranteed support for substance abuse treatment in both private plans and in Medicaid,” Shapiro said. “That will affect 175,000 Pennsylvanians who have come to depend on access to this treatment.”
Shapiro said that 13 people die every day from overdoses in Pennsylvania, and that the state ranks third for opioid related deaths. He said that, if they lose their coverage, it will have an immediate effect on local communities.
“The reality is, if they go ahead and cut treatment, that makes our job in law enforcement next to impossible,” he said.
Casey expressed similar sentiments when he talked about the bill. He said the bill will hit rural counties the hardest. Casey said that in the last month, he has visited 11 rural counties where 54,000 people are insured by the ACA. He said they may lose this coverage.
On top of Pennsylvanians losing access to health care, Casey said the new bill could also affect the job market.
“This bill is a wrecking ball for our health care system,” Casey said. “Rural hospitals will be closed, jobs will be lost. By one estimate, George Washington University tell us that more than 62,000 healthcare jobs will be lost in Pennsylvania.”
Wolf joined a bipartisan group of governors against the Republican repeal and replacement bill. He said that he also asked health care companies in Pennsylvania to estimate how much premiums would go up for residents if the Republican health care bill was passed. He said the estimated that premiums would go up by 8.8 percent in Pennsylvania.
"Across the country, millions of families will lose their health care coverage," Wolf said. "I will not be governor in 2030, I'm constitutionally prohibited from that, but whoever is governor would be left with the clean up by the devastation that would be caused by these bills."