Casey: Pa. can’t afford to maintain health care without federal help

     U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, has called the Senate GOP's health care plan

    U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, has called the Senate GOP's health care plan "obscene." (Alex Brandon/AP Photo, file)

    Lawmakers in Washington are still reading through the finer details of the Senate GOP’s new health care bill, but opponents are already warning it’ll give states an impossible choice — either cut services or spend billions more on health care.

    In a visit to his home state Capitol Friday, Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called the bill “obscene.”

    The Better Care Reconciliation Act, as it is formally known, would significantly roll back federal Medicaid spending by capping cost growth, starting in 2021.

    Many supporters — including Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey — say they don’t think that will necessarily change Medicaid coverage drastically.

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    Casey, a Democrat, said that’s disingenuous, because the commonwealth doesn’t have the money to make up for federal cuts.

    “You’ve got states across the country, including Pennsylvania, that have to balance their budget,” he said. “What the Republicans are doing are just washing their hands of Medicaid, sending it back to the states and saying, basically, it’s your problem, state government.”

    “Any federal legislator who votes for this bill and says, ‘Oh I didn’t cut Medicaid, I just sent it back to the states’ — that whole argument … is deliberately misleading,” he added.

    Some of the deepest cuts would be to the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion, which covers 716,000 lower-income people statewide.

    The state could opt to keep up the coverage, but Wolf administration officials have said the costs would be astronomical — likely more than $4 billion.

    The commonwealth, currently facing a roughly $3 billion structural deficit, is struggling to find revenue to balance its budget, which is due next week.

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