Frankel slams Trump administration over attacks on Medicaid benefits

Calls on state legislature to take action to protect Pennsylvanians’ health care

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 30 – Rep. Dan Frankel, Democratic chair of the House Health Committee, today excoriated the Trump administration for its most recent attack on Medicaid benefits and called for state-level protections against ongoing threats to health care access.

“Every time you turn around, this administration is announcing some new way that they will take away government protections on which struggling Americans have come to rely,” Frankel said. “This policy change, like the ones before it, is as misguided as it is immoral.”

States were alerted this week that they will be able to avoid federal regulations that require the programs to provide quality care to Medicaid expansion recipients in exchange for capping the amount of money that goes to the program. This is despite extensive data showing that encouraging and expanding Medicaid enrollment saves lives and reduces health care costs overall.

“Attempting to save money by restricting access to health care is a fool’s errand,” Frankel said. “What you get instead is a sicker population, more individuals who are too sick to work, and healthy people who are forced to take care of loved ones instead of fulfilling their own earning potential.”

Providing critical services to working Americans and those who cannot work is increasingly falling to the states as the federal agencies actively undermine their intended functions.

Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion has been a lifeline for more than 700,000 residents seeking needed health care. While the administration is banking on Americans not understanding or caring that this policy will leave people unprotected when they are at their most vulnerable, poll after poll has found that people are very much paying attention to what’s happening to their health care.

Already, Trump administration attacks on the individual insurance market have weakened protections that were designed to set some basic ground rules for coverage, which disallowed exclusions for “pre-existing conditions” and lifetime caps. Due to the administration’s refusal to stand with consumers, they can now be tricked into paying for cut rate plans that use loopholes to avoid paying claims.

“We already have some plans in Pennsylvania – encouraged by Trump – that let people pay for insurance without offering them these basic protections. We’ve already heard stories of consumers getting burned,” Frankel said.  “And if the Trump administration has its way, all those protections will fall, under the weight of a lawsuit that he supports.”

Pennsylvania House Democrats have a package of four bills that would guarantee health care protections for Pennsylvanians, even if the ACA is struck down. A few weeks ago, House Democrats filed a discharge resolution to seek action on these bills, which have languished in the House Insurance Committee for over 10 months. Those measures are:

  • H.B. 471, which would protect people with pre-existing conditions.
  • H.B. 469, which would Ensure essential health benefits are covered.
  • H.B. 470, which would end lifetime limits on coverage.
  • H.B. 913, which would preserve coverage for adult children up to age 26.

“Governor Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid his first day in office,” Frankel said. “We can trust him to preserve our program. But we must continue to pay attention to health care protections in our state.”