Casey slams proposed cuts to Medicaid

May 19, 2017
Sen. Bob Casey

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey criticized the House-passed American Health Care Act Thursday, saying the resulting reduction of Medicaid funding would be a “totally unnecessary cut” that would “change American life in a very devastating fashion.”

School district Medicaid reimbursements

District FY 2014-15 Proposed

reimbursement 30 percent cut

Avella Area 31,537 9,461

Belle Vernon 233,675 70,102

Bentworth 41,114 12,334

Bethlehem-Center 11,268 3,380

Burgettstown Area 50,214 15,064

California Area 17,016 5,105

Canon-McMillan 96,659 28,997

Carmichaels Area 50,164 15,049

Central Greene 67,537 20,261

Charleroi Area 48,148 14,444

Chartiers-Houston 7,469 2,240

Intermediate Unit 1 1,552,300 465,690

Jefferson-Morgan 28,630 8,589

McGuffey 59,491 17,847

Monessen 10,904 3,271

Peters Township 162,371 48,711

Ringgold 70,106 21,031

Southeast Greene 39,919 11,975

Trinity Area 286,387 85,916

Washington 25,695 7,708

West Greene 39,227 11,768

Source: Sen. Robert Casey’s office

“Medicaid is a program I am going to defend with everything I have,” he said.

Casey, an outspoken opponent of the American Health Care Act, hosted a conference call with Mark DiRocco, executive director of the state Association of School Administrators, to highlight how the proposed $880 billion cut to Medicaid would affect students and school districts.

Through the ACCESS program, schools across the commonwealth use Medicaid to provide services for some children in special education, including screenings, therapies, assistive devices and support staff.

“Support that allows students throughout the districts to flourish and realize their God-given potential,” said Casey.

In 2014, the federal share of Medicaid funding for the state program was about $143 million.

The School Superintendents Association said school leaders are worried that students in special education programs will be hurt if a 30 percent Medicaid reduction occurs. In Pennsylvania, a 30 percent cut would translate into more than $40.3 million in losses to schools.

Casey said the state would be burdened to cover the costs, leading to higher taxes and reduced services for children.

“No parent should have to worry that their child won’t get the support they need,” he said.

General education services could be slashed to make up for Medicaid funding, according to DiRocco.

“That’s not a scenario anyone wants to see,” he said. “Why the federal government would want to start to take away these foundations and support from these kids is beyond me.”

Children account for 46 percent of the Medicaid benefit in Pennsylvania, which was among 30 states that expanded Medicaid under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

“This backdoor cut to public education and kids who need these services could be devastating,” said DiRocco.

Casey expects a Senate vote before the July 4 break.

“I think it’s important to have a good, long debate about this,” said Casey. “If they have an idea that is so positive, why not subject it to the light of day and scrutiny ... and have some hearings?”

Natalie Reid Miller has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2013. A native of Burgettstown, she primarily covers Washington and surrounding communities. Natalie has a writing degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

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