Local leaders say affordable health care is a right, ‘not a privilege for the fortunate few

July 8, 2019
In The News

Around 5.3 million Pennsylvanians rely on the Affordable Care Act, but their quality affordable healthcare could soon be taken away, according to Democratic political leaders.

On Monday morning, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Susan Wild argued against a key court case pending in the U.S. Fifth Circuit that could strip millions of Americans of their mandatory affordable healthcare. They spoke out at a news conference at the Lehigh County Government Center in Allentown.

Texas v. United States was brought by a number of Republican attorneys general and governors under the support the Trump administration to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Casey, the Democratic U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania, and Wild, the Democratic congresswoman from the Lehigh Valley, say that act is worth fighting for.

Casey said several Fifth Circuit judges are Trump administration appointees, which casts a shadow over the hope to save mandatory affordable care. Two of the three judges on the panel who will hear the case were appointed by Republican presidents, he said.

If the Republicans are successful, 133 million Americans and more than 5 million Pennsylvanians could lose their health care due to pre-existing conditions, Casey said. Millions would be knocked off of Medicaid, he said. It could mean $845 billion in proposed Medicare cuts.

“Women would be charged more than men for healthcare. We would go back to that discrimination that was part of our healthcare for many years,” Casey said. Young people would no longer have access to their parents’ coverage up to the age of 26, he added.

“Is this America?” Casey asked.

Wild said it’s her moral belief that “quality affordable healthcare is the right of every child, woman and man in this country, not a privilege for the fortunate few.”

Wild called on Congress to “build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act, not destroy them, and ensure that every American can get health coverage, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and lower the rising cost of healthcare.”

She said she has passed bills to amend and protect mandatory affordable health care. She supported an amendment to "prevent this administration and any future administration from taking any step that would have the effect of raising premiums of people with pre-existing conditions,” she said. It was passed “overwhelmingly” with 78 Republican votes, she said.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican and Lehigh Valley resident, said he agrees affordable health care is important.

“There is not a single Republican Senator who believes people with chronic and/or expensive pre-existing conditions shouldn’t have access to quality, affordable healthcare," he said.

Despite Toomey’s encouraging words, Casey worries about the future of the case. For now, the key is to raise awareness about it, he said. Many Americans don’t realize what’s at stake, he said.