Group of Democratic State Senators Request Hearing or Committee Vote on Bills Aimed at Protecting Quality, Stable Health Care in PA
HARRISBURG – January 7, 2020 – State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery), Pam Iovino (D-Allegheny/Washington), Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks), and Tim Kearney (D-Delaware/Chester) have requested that the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee take action on four bills aimed at maintaining Pennsylvania’s commitment to quality and stable insurance for its citizens.
The group of Democratic senators sent a letter Tuesday to Senate Banking and Insurance Committee Chairman Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton), urging that he convene a public hearing or voting meeting on a package of health care bills that would uphold key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should federal health care law change. The request for action on the bills comes in the wake of a recent federal appeals court ruling in New Orleans that deemed the PPACA unconstitutional.
The bills put forth for public hearing or committee vote include:
- Senate Bill 50 — prohibiting denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions
- Senate Bill 51 — providing for essential health benefits such as mental health and addiction treatment
- Senate Bill 939— prohibition on selling insurance policies that have an annual or lifetime limit on coverage
- Senate Bill 982— allows young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until they reach age 26
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been critical in improving the health and wellness of our people, which makes preserving its provisions one of the most important priorities of the state legislature in 2020,” Sen. Hughes said. “We must work together to maintain quality, affordable health care for all Pennsylvanians – especially as we launch our state-run health care exchange this year.”
The Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 42 of 2019 with bipartisan support, establishing an insurance marketplace to help reduce residents’ health care costs by an estimated 5 to 10 percent. The senators are hopeful that the state legislature can again work together for the people of Pennsylvania.
“The Affordable Care Act’s core protections have benefited millions of Pennsylvanians by providing affordable access to quality healthcare and creating financial security and stability,” said Sen. Iovino. “We cannot risk these vital protections disappearing if the ACA is overturned. Our legislation to protect healthcare for Pennsylvanians deserves full consideration by the Senate.”
As an example of how important the PPACA has been, the senators’ lettor noted that current federal provisions have benefited 4.5 million of Pennsylvanians by eliminating annual and lifetime limits. It has also allowed nearly 90,000 young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance since it was enacted in 2010.
“The ACA is currently under threat at the federal level. Pending court challenges could result in all or part of this ground-breaking law being repealed,” Sen. Santarsiero. “We should move forward with these bills in the Senate to protect Pennsylvania residents’ access to healthcare and ensure they don’t lose the coverage they currently have.”
“Pennsylvanians have been very vocal about the importance of access to affordable health care,” Sen. Collett said. “We as state legislators must be prepared to act in the face of instability at the federal level. Let’s hold a hearing and get the discussion moving forward. As a nurse and the wife of a chronic cancer sufferer, I know firsthand that many lives hang in the balance here.”
“Healthcare is a basic human right and we must fight for access to quality, affordable care for all Pennsylvanians,” Sen. Kearney said. “Given the uncertainty in federal courts, the state legislature must step up to ensure our people are covered and protected. That is why I join the call for public hearing on these bipartisan bills to ensure everyone can get the care they need.”
You can read the full letter here.