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Advocates: New ACA Repeal Bill Would Cost PA Millions

Nationwide, the bill would cut federal health care funding $124 billion by 2026. (AlarconBenthos/Pixabay)
Nationwide, the bill would cut federal health care funding $124 billion by 2026. (AlarconBenthos/Pixabay)
August 28, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Two Republican senators are working on a new bill to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, but analysts say it would have the same devastating impact on health care as the last one.

Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly are working with the White House on a bill that would deeply cut Medicaid, institute a per capita cap on Medicaid benefits, and replace health insurance marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansions with diminishing block grants that would end totally in nine years.

According to Jacob Leibenluft, senior advisor with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Pennsylvania would lose about $500 million initially - then, in 2026, the bottom would drop out.

"The Medicaid expansion effect in Pennsylvania would effectively go away, all of the supports through tax credit funding would go away,” Leibenluft said; "and then of course this underlying Medicaid per capita cap would continue to see cuts over time."

Under the bill, some states such as Alabama and Mississippi would get more federal health care money for a while, but that too would disappear when the block grants ended.

And Liebenluft pointed out that states with large populations that successfully enrolled many low- and middle-income people in Medicaid and marketplace coverage would be the biggest losers.

"What you see under this plan,” he said, "is some states are really devastated in the near term, some states are just hurt some in the near term, but in the long run every state would lose out significantly."

He said once the block grants end, the bill would essentially be a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without a viable replacement.

But the Cassidy-Graham bill is not the only option to reform the health care system. Leibenluft noted that, after the July vote that stalled the efforts to repeal the ACA, several senators from both sides of the aisle committed to work together on a solution.

"This is an effort to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, improve the health care system and try to find ways to work in a bipartisan manner to lower costs and improve coverage,” Leibenluft said.

The Senate will be holding hearings on the bipartisan effort to fix the health care system early next month.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA