Mass. Stands to Lose Billions and Increase Uninsured Under BCRA

As Monday Report went to press, the U.S. Senate Republican leadership was reported to be putting its rewrite of its healthcare reform bill back on the fast track after the original version was derailed earlier this week due to opposition from both conservative and moderate members of the GOP.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell planned to get a rewrite to the Congressional Budget Office quickly so that CBO could “re-score” the bill to determine how the legislation would affect federal spending and insurance coverage levels in the future.

Earlier in the week, the rapid progress on the Senate bill hit a roadblock when some Republicans insisted that the scheduled vote be delayed until after the July 4 break. All Democrats oppose the GOP’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA).  President Trump held a meeting with Republican senators at the White House on Tuesday at which the Senate bill was debated.

MHA opposes the BCRA as it would result in the loss of federal funding to the state, increase the number of uninsured in Massachusetts, and ultimately result in higher healthcare costs due to the necessary rollback of existing state reform efforts that rely on state-federal partnerships.

Massachusetts’ Democratic  Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey have been staunch opponents of the GOP’s healthcare bill.  Markey has been especially vocal in detailing how the Senate bill’s cuts to Medicaid will have a direct effect on the national fight against the opioid epidemic.

“All the bipartisan progress we have made on combatting this crisis will be thrown out the window if Senate Republicans repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with their cruel and inhumane and immoral legislation,” Markey said on Tuesday.  
Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker laid out his administration’s concerns with the BCRA in a letter he sent Monday to the state’s Congressional delegation.

Baker wrote that the Senate legislation would cut $600 million in health safety net funding to Massachusetts starting in 2020; eliminate federal funding for the state’s Medicaid’s expansion population; impose a “massive transfer of risk” to states through the bill’s Medicaid per capita plan; and, “with no justification, the Senate proposal shifts billions of dollars of federal matching funds from higher wage states to lower wage states, dramatically expanding the current spread between them, and creating an enormous budget shortfall for higher wage states like Massachusetts, and an enormous windfall for lower wage states.”

The Baker Administration estimates BCRA will result in the loss of coverage for 264,000 Massachusetts residents and the loss of $8.2 billion by 2025.