One of the great success stories of the past two decades has been the increase in the number of American children who have health care coverage. We just celebrated the fact that our nation achieved the historic milestone of 95 percent of children with health care coverage.
Now Congress is considering a hasty, ill-conceived plan that would take our country on a U-turn. The number of uninsured children would double nationwide if Congressional leaders succeed in rushing forward with their risky plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without simultaneously replacing it.
According to a new analysis from the Urban Institute, here in Pennsylvania, an estimated 956,000 would lose coverage - including many children, families, disabled individuals and people with pre-existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Keeping our children healthy is key to many of the state’s goals. Asthma, diabetes, even tooth decay can keep children home from school, leaving them to fall behind academically. Sick children can keep parents home from work, affecting their productivity. Healthy communities are prosperous communities, vital to our state's economic success.
A repeal of the ACA would also create chaos in Pennsylvania's health care system and wreak havoc on our state budget. Over a 10-year period, Pennsylvania would lose $36 billion in federal funding to meet the health needs of its residents. Our governor and legislature already have their work cut out for them and the health care needs of Pennsylvania children and families won’t disappear when they lose their coverage.
Yet Congressional leaders tell us and our state legislators not to worry. They ask us to trust them in developing a replacement when they have been unable to agree on any such plan in the past six years.
The stakes are too high for us to hope this time will be different. A repeal would simply pass the buck and leave Pennsylvania with a huge hole in its budget and our health care safety-net.
Voting to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan attached is not responsible governing; it’s a risky step that threatens the health of children and families.
Our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. should show responsibility and forethought by not rushing forward to repeal the ACA before they have done the hard work to negotiate and approve a replacement plan simultaneously. They owe all Pennsylvanians that much.
To see the Urban Institute's full analysis, click here.