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Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement about today's pending vote on health care reform.

According to the governor's office, he is "urging" Pennsylvania's House delegation to vote no on the American Health Care Act. On his website, Wolf published a letter, in which he explained that he thinks the Act would "put the health care of millions of Pennsylvanians in jeopardy."

“Put your constituents before the pressure of your leaders in Washington by voting no,” Wolf wrote. “For consumers, your decisions could mean the difference between being able to afford health care and being able to keep the lights on in their homes.

“For states, your decisions could mean the difference between ensuring the most vulnerable people in our commonwealth are able to access long-term services and supports that allow them to age in place, coverage for essential benefits such as maternity and newborn care, or mental health and substance use services or offering bare bones benefits to in order to maximize our state dollars and offset federal cuts.”

The full letter can be read here:

Dear Congressman:

I write again to express my deep concern about the ongoing, unpredictable nature of conversations in Washington regarding health care reform. Health care coverage is, in many cases, a life and death subject.

Before today’s expected vote on the American Health Care Act, I urge you to put your constituents before the pressure of your leaders in Washington by voting no.

For consumers, your decisions could mean the difference between being able to afford health care and being able to keep the lights on in their homes. For states, your decisions could mean the difference between ensuring the most vulnerable people in our commonwealth are able to access long-term services and supports that allow them to age in place, coverage for essential benefits such as maternity and newborn care, or mental health and substance use services or offering bare bones benefits to in order to maximize our state dollars and offset federal cuts. These are decisions that involve billions of dollars and millions of lives, and to make them piecemeal and behind closed doors is the opposite of a transparent government that serves the people.

I am particularly concerned that nothing has been done to alleviate the devastation for many older Pennsylvanians. This bill still jeopardizes health care coverage and affordability for vulnerable older adults. It still has the same 5:1 age rating provision, dramatically changes Medicaid, and reduces and then eliminates completely the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which supports the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living grants for falls prevention activities, chronic disease self-management programs, and Alzheimer’s disease prevention and education efforts.

Along with several members of my Cabinet, I have written multiple letters in response to various congressional inquiries offering suggestions on how we feel the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can be strengthened. In Pennsylvania, we have willingly admitted that the ACA is not perfect and there have been flaws in its implementation that have contributed to market instability and rate increases. Instead of focusing on efforts to dismantle the law in Washington, we are again indicating our willingness to come to the table with solutions that Pennsylvanians need and want.

At a minimum, we believe that Congress must focus on minimizing cost shifts to the American people, which is accomplished by continuing financial assistance for older and lower income individuals so coverage remains affordable. We would even take that one step further and advocate that affordability programs should be expanded to help even more people purchase coverage at affordable rates. In addition, we strongly believe that Congress must continue enforcement of the individual mandate, maintain the prohibition on pre-existing condition coverage exclusions, increase enforcement of special enrollment periods, maintain and/or increase states’ flexibility on federal responsibilities related to health care including the ability to regulate our own markets, and fully fund the risk corridors.

We are ready to engage in a meaningful debate about the future of health care but it cannot be one-sided. I urge you to remove yourself from the frenzy that has become the health care debate and come home next week to talk to your constituents, and your state, about our needs. At the end of the day, the nature of our representative democracy means that you are at the forefront of our future on this issue. The power has been vested in you to bring the people’s voice to Washington and to do that effectively, you must hear what we have to say. We remain willing and eager to continue this conversation. Thank you for the continued opportunity to weigh in on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

TOM WOLF

Governor

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