Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Make health insurance equal to or better than it is today: That’s the message Gov. Tom Wolf is being asked to deliver to federal lawmakers.

A select group of governors is speaking with Senate leadership this week about the American Health Care Act, the bill passed by the House to replace the Affordable Care Act. As written, the AHCA would slash Medicaid, allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, and eliminate the requirement that insurance companies provide essential benefits such as cancer prevention and treatment.

Diane Phillips, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, said lawmakers need to improve, not destroy, gains made under the Affordable Care Act.

“One of its greatest achievements has been enabling most patients with pre-existing conditions like cancer to buy insurance that covers their necessary care,” she said. “Americans across the board need access to affordable, quality care.”

The Cancer Action Network has sent a letter to several state governors expressing its concerns. Supporters of the AHCA have said it would give states more flexibility in providing health care. However, Phillips pointed out that the bill’s dramatic cuts to Medicaid would shift the cost of care to the states.

“On top of current budget issues,” she said, “states would be expected to fill in the gaps for Medicaid because the federal government is now changing that scenario in midstream.”

According to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, AHCA cuts could result in a projected potential loss to Pennsylvania of almost $25 billion over the next 10 years.

The letter is online at acscan.org.