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March 2017 eNews
Health Law PA News

Click here for the March 2017 Health Law PA News.
  • Announcement about effective dates for HealthChoices plans
  • CHC Update
  • American Health Care Act Update
  • ABLE Launch
  • Update about DHS Intent to Continue to Provide Medical Assistance for Former Foster Care Youth from a Different State”
  • Transition from PCPC to ASAM Placement Tool in PA
  • New Medicare Equitable Relief Opportunity for Current and Former Marketplace Enrollees

Advocacy Defeats the GOP’s Health Care Bill

The demise of the GOP’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was extraordinary! Republicans had crusaded for seven years to repeal and replace the ACA and, for an even longer period, sought to reduce funding for Medicaid.  Many commentators ascribe the bill’s demise to splits within the Republican Party, but as Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack observed, “[t]he defeat of the Affordable Care Act’s repeal bill was not simply the story of a couple dozen renegade Republican House members who revolted against their party’s leadership.  It was much larger than that.” 

People across the commonwealth expressed their dismay and fears about losing coverage.  This mobilization was partially prompted by the InsurePA Coalition, which the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) helped to form. These efforts encouraged people to share their stories, humanizing the debate.

Other Pennsylvania health stakeholder groups also opposed the Republican bill. The Pennsylvania Hospital Association expressed dismay that they would become economically vulnerable by being forced to provide uncompensated care to many more people who would no longer have insurance.

And, the bill’s demise showed the broad and deep reach of Medicaid, which covers 2.8 million Pennsylvanians –about six times as many people as the private marketplaces created under the ACA. The objections of moderate Republicans to the deep cuts in Medicaid doomed the bill.  Republican congressmen Patrick Meehan of Delaware County expressed reservations after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Republican bill would have significantly reduced federal spending on Medicaid and reduced the number of Medicaid beneficiaries. 

As David Brooks succinctly summed up, “The Republican Health Care bill failed because it was a bad bill that had almost no authentic public support. It took benefits away from tens of millions of vulnerable people…” People are hungry for solutions to their health care problems.  If Washington lawmakers continue to move forward on ACA repeal they should be guided by the human consequences of their decisions.

Laval Miller-Wilson

Executive Director

Remembering Dennis Marion

Our staff is deeply saddened by the sudden death of OMHSAS Deputy Secretary, Dennis Marion.  We express our condolences to all who worked with him and most especially to his family.  Dennis worked closely with us in our role as advisors to the Consumer Subcommittee of the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee and was attentive and responsive to the issues raised to him.  We had an enjoyable working relationship with him as “sunshine members” of the Mental Health Planning Council and respected his commitment to those he served in his role as OMHSAS Deputy Secretary.  By all accounts, Dennis was a good man.  Our sincere sympathies go out to his family and all those who are stunned and saddened by his death. 

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What We're Reading

The Death Of Trumpcare Is The Ultimate Proof Of Obamacare’s Historic Accomplishment, Jonathon Cohn, Huffington Post, March 26, 2017

“Nobody questions that Obamacare requires reinforcement and repair ― or that someday it might need total replacement. Conservatives and liberals each have plenty of ideas along those lines.

But the standard for judging any of these proposals, or some bipartisan combination of them, will be … Does it protect the people who need protection? Does it improve access to care? Does it reduce financial insecurity? Does it move the U.S. closer to a system where all Americans truly have a way to get the medical care they need ― at a price they can afford?”
In Health Bill’s Defeat, Medicaid Comes of Age. Kate Zernike, Abby Goodnough and Pam Belluck, The New York Times, March 27, 2017

Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. It covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States. It pays for the care for two-thirds of people in nursing homes. And it provides for 10 million children and adults with physical or mental disabilities. For states, it accounts for 60 percent of federal funding — meaning that cuts hurt not only poor and middle-class families caring for their children with autism or dying parents, but also bond ratings.

The program is so woven into the nation’s fabric that in 2015, almost two thirds of Americans in a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they were either covered by Medicaid or had a family member or friend who was. The program not only pays for 16 percent of all personal health care spending nationwide, but also accounts for 9 percent of federal domestic spending.
The Silent Victims of the GOP Health-Care Proposal, Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, March 20, 2017

“Part of the problem with restructuring Medicaid is that uninsured parents often have uninsured children—even if those children are eligible for coverage. ‘In the years preceding ACA implementation, two-thirds of uninsured children were eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP,’ wrote Tricia Brooks in a blog post for the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. ‘In fact, 84 percent of children had the same insurance status as their parents according to a 2011 GAO study.’
In that same study, researchers reviewed more than a dozen previous studies examining the link between a parent’s coverage status and a child’s insurance status. Despite methodological differences, every single one showed ‘significant associations.’”
Lives on the Line: Faces of the ACA & Medicaid, Insure PA

“Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act & radically restructure the Medicaid program currently making their way through Congress put millions of Pennsylvanians' lives on the line, playing politics with their health and their financial security.

 The stories in "Lives on the Line" illustrate just how important these programs are to real Pennsylvanians and the devastating impact that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act or cuts to Medicaid could have in our state.”
What Will Happen to Americans Who Can't Afford an Attorney?, Matt Ford, The Atlantic, March 19, 2017

“In many ways, legal-aid organizations fill the same role in civil proceedings that public defenders perform in the criminal-justice system: providing legal representation for those unable to afford it themselves. The Sixth Amendment requires the existence of public-defender systems, which often have their own budgetary woes, but civil legal-aid programs have no such constitutional mandate. Instead, they rely on support from both parties and funding from federal and state governments, private foundations, and other nonprofit groups to exist…

The services those organizations provide can be life-changing… Their assistance can range from educational programs to direct legal representation in state, federal, and tribal courts.”
Helping People in Need Get the Health Care They Deserve.
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