"Before it's too late": Frankel says state needs commission to study Pa. effects of health-care repeal

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, plans to introduce legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to study the impact of federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act on Pennsylvania residents.

"Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only put at risk the health care coverage of millions of Pennsylvanians, but also devastate our state’s finances. Pennsylvania has saved about $700 million a year from the law’s drug rebates, increased funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and closing of the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit 'donut hole.' Without the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania taxpayers would need to come up with this funding from somewhere else – at a time when we already face large, unsustainable budget shortfalls," Frankel said.

"We also know the law has had many other benefits for Pennsylvanians, and we need to know what the impact would be if a new president and Congress take them away. These gains that are at risk include: enabling young people to stay on their parents' plans until age 26; free preventive care; federally funded Medicaid expansion that has helped to cover roughly 600,000 Pennsylvanians; banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions; and banning annual and lifetime limits on care. Losing any of these protections – let alone all of them – would have a major impact on Pennsylvania, and we need to know those impacts before a federal 'repeal and delay' plan takes effect, for example.

"What would happen to our hospitals? What would happen to the health-care sector in western Pennsylvania, one of our major employers in the region? We need to know before it's too late."

"These are bipartisan concerns. For example, the Republican governors of Ohio and Michigan want Congress to keep the ACA's Medicaid expansion, and Ohio's governor has confirmed what we know in Pennsylvania: that the Medicaid expansion has helped greatly in the fight against the opioid epidemic."

Frankel said the commission would include both gubernatorial and legislative appointees and offer recommendations for the General Assembly to consider if the Affordable Care Act is partly or fully repealed.