Baker Says 264,000 Mass. Residents Would Lose Health Coverage Under Senate Proposal

The health care bill proposed by U.S. Senate Republican leaders would result in 264,000 Massachusetts residents losing their insurance and have a cumulative financial impact on the state of more than $8.2 billion by 2025, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker warned Monday.

Baker unveiled his administration's latest analysis in a letter addressed to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and sent to each member of the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation.

"Overall, our analysis indicates that the (Senate bill) would increasingly strain the state's fiscal resources, result in greater numbers of individuals without insurance and destabilize the commercial insurance market," the governor wrote.

Under the GOP proposal, Baker writes that the state would lose $907 million in 2020, with the annual fiscal impact climbing to $1.7 billion in 2024.

He cited several reasons for the impact, including the loss in 2020 of $600 million in safety net funding that was part of a Medicaid waiver the Baker administration negotiated with former President Barack Obama's administration; the elimination starting in 2023 of federal matching funds to cover those in Massachusetts who received coverage under the expansion of Medicaid; a cap on overall federal matching funds; and a provision in the bill that he wrote would, "with no justification," shift billions of dollars in matching funds from higher wage states like Massachusetts to lower wage states.

The Senate bill, which would repeal and replace key portions of the Affordable Care Act, would have less of a financial impact on Massachusetts in the first few years than an earlier version of the bill passed by the U.S. House, Baker noted, but the consequences of the Senate bill would become more severe after 2020.

The state's congressional delegation needs little convincing on the issue from the governor. Both Warren and Democratic Sen. Edward Markey have been outspoken in their opposition to the GOP bill, and all nine House members voted against the bill that passed in that chamber.

Baker told reporters he was disappointed with the lack of bipartisan discussion in Washington and said there didn't seem much interest from Democrats or Republicans in fixing problems with the current health care law.

Separately on Monday, Baker and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on behalf of the National Governors Association asking that governors be given more time to review the bill to determine how it might affect their states before a vote is taken in the Senate.

Baker said he believes members of Congress may listen to what their state officials are saying.

"Let's face it, governors like state legislators deal with this stuff on a day to day basis," he said after a meeting with legislative leaders.

This article was originally published on June 26, 2017.



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