Pa. Democrats push to shore up insurance coverage in case ACA is struck down

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg.

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg. (Tom Downing/WITF)

Several Democratic state senators are trying to convince GOP leaders to hold hearings on a raft of bills to guarantee healthcare to certain Pennsylvanians if the Affordable Care Act is struck down.

The proposals are in response to a federal appeals court ruling key ACA provisions unconstitutional late last year.

The ACA battle is still tied up in court.

But Vince Hughes, a top Senate Democrat from Philadelphia, said he believes Pennsylvania should have backstops in place in case the law is struck down and people lose insurance coverage.

“As things get sketchier and sketchier every day with Washington, the number one issue in Pennsylvania is healthcare,” he said.

Hughes added that right now, Democrats just want Republicans to at least commit to a hearing on the measures.

“There’s value to a public conversation to lead up to a vote, because we need to get the full input in,” he said.

Staff for Mario Scavello, the Monroe County Republican who chairs the Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee, didn’t comment on whether he’s amenable to the request, though a spokesman did note that Scavello has been involved in conversations on these and other ACA-related bills.

Jenn Kocher, a spokeswoman for the Senate’s GOP majority, didn’t say whether caucus leaders support the measures.

However, a two high-ranking Republicans—Senate GOP Appropriations Chair Pat Browne and Health and Human Services Chair Michele Brooks — are listed as co-sponsors on two of the bills.

The Democrats’ package has four components.

The measures would prohibit denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions, provide coverage for mental health and addiction treatment, prohibit sale of insurance policies that limit coverage, and allow people to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.