Governor Tom Wolf participated in a virtual press conference today with U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvanian health experts and a constituent affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to discuss what’s at stake for the 5.5 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions and nearly one million more who could lose their coverage—in the middle of a pandemic—if the Supreme Court were to overturn the ACA.
“It’s imperative that we do everything in our power to protect the ACA and the millions of Pennsylvanians who have access to health care because of it, especially during a pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “If the Supreme Court were to dismantle or eliminate the ACA, millions of people would lose protections that are quite literally life-saving and with the unknown long-term health implications of COVID-19, now is the time to expand coverage, not limit or eliminate it.”
“President Trump and Senator McConnell are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice who will back their lawsuit to destroy the Affordable Care Act, kicking 23 million people off their health insurance, ending protections for 135 million people with pre-existing conditions and raising costs for millions more, in the middle of a pandemic,” Sen. Casey said. “If confirmed, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will almost certainly vote to overturn the ACA, which will adversely impact working families, children and seniors.
“If Republicans successfully sabotage the ACA, insurers could deny coverage to people who recover from COVID-19 but face long-term medical consequences. In the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 210,000 Americans, this is indefensible. I’m going to keep fighting every day to protect Americans’ health care and keep the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land.”
Gov. Wolf and Sen. Casey were joined by health professionals from Community Health Net, with Erie-area locations that provide a full range of health care services. The organization has received recognition from the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its innovative approach in developing an integrated service network and expansion among community partners. Community Health Net provides access to health care for all area residents, including the medically underserved and uninsured populations.
Andrea Kobylinski, mother to 10-year-old Nicholas, who has pre-existing conditions that require extensive care, spoke about how losing ACA benefits such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, not having yearly or lifetime limits, and being able to maintain Nicholas on her family insurance past high school graduation is essential to his ongoing treatment, particularly as he transitions to adulthood.
“When the ACA came around, I saw it as being for other people,” said Kobylinski. “When we received Nicholas’s diagnosis, all of a sudden it meant a lot to me. It meant everything. Having affordable, quality health care is the foundation for his future. It is my hope that compassionate hearts will prevail on the Supreme Court.”
“Health care coverage for every Pennsylvanian is necessary to protect the lives of individuals and families, but it also protects communities,” Gov. Wolf said. “When people have access to health care coverage, they are more likely to have access to preventive care to stay healthy, and more likely to receive care quickly when they are sick. Ensuring that people have access to medical care – and that medical care is affordable – is the duty of government at all times, but it is especially vital when our world is fighting a pandemic that is still presenting us with new challenges every day. I will do everything I can to protect health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians.”
Last week, Gov. Wolf introduced health care reforms to address the needs of Pennsylvanians physical and behavioral health and the social determinants of health that impact access and affordability. These reforms will be expanded as the three main components of the plan are implemented. They include an Interagency Health Reform Council (IHRC), established with an executive order the governor signed at the press conference last week; Regional Accountable Health Councils (RAHCs) to collectively develop regional transformation plans – built on community needs assessments – to reduce disparities, address social determinants of health, and align value-based purchasing arrangements; and a Health Value Commission charged with keeping all payors and providers accountable for health care cost growth, to provide the long-term affordability and sustainability of our health care system, and to promote whole-person care.