Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Health bill means many would suffer

on June 13, 2017 9:29 AM
Indiana, PA

Our U.S. senator, Republican Pat Toomey, is one of the senators working on a revision of the health care bill. I write to remind all his constituents, regardless of party, of how many Pennsylvania residents, especially women and children, will suffer under the latest proposals.

Overall, about 13.2 percent of the people in our state do not have health coverage. About the same number belong to families whose income is below the poverty line, although those numbers are higher for children (19 percent) and for non-elderly women (14.2 percent), according to Talkpoverty.com. But it’s not just poor people who would suffer.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27 percent of Americans have pre-existing conditions that would make them uninsurable or would price them out of individual markets. And again, women and children would suffer disproportionately.

The Pew Research Center in May found that support of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) had reached an all-time high in the previous month, so clearly all these people would be devastated if their health insurance disappears or is too expensive. Many of them are the same people who voted for President Trump and for Sen. Toomey; they believed the president’s promise that their health insurance would get better, not catastrophically worse.

Please also remember the damage to our state. State Secretary of Human Services Ted Dallas has said, “There is no way for us to cover the cost shift … if open-ended federal Medicaid dollars to the state” were replaced by “fixed amount grants.” Philly.com estimates that the state deficit would go up an additional $1.4 billion (it is already $1.2 billion, according to the Morning Call of June 4). And it’s not just that people would lose their health insurance; thousands of Pennsylvania workers would also lose their jobs as hospitals and care providers start failing.

We need a national health care bill that will guarantee these four things: a) ensuring that pre-existing conditions can’t be used to deny coverage or make rates unaffordable; b) ensuring that health insurance rates don’t discriminate against women; c) providing preventive care, limiting out-of-pocket costs, and prohibiting lifetime insurance caps; and d) ensuring Medicaid recipients continue to get full health care services.

I urge all Pennsylvanians to contact Sen. Toomey and remind him to represent all of us. We’re counting on him, and all the Senate.

Catherine L. McClenahan

Indiana

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