Editorial: Toomey is either lying or misinformed, and it will hurt Pennsylvanians


Protestors hold a cutout of Sen. Pat Toomey at a “Tuesday’s with Toomey” in February. (Photo by Anna Bongardino | Visual Editor)

Regardless of what Sen. Pat Toomey may say, the new Senate health care bill does cut federal spending to Medicaid, and does so in a significant way.

Medicaid is a federal program designed to provide health insurance to those who otherwise cannot afford it, and as of April 2017 nearly 75 million Americans were enrolled in the program. Currently, the program and those enrolled in it are at risk.

When the Affordable Care Act came into law, it greatly expanded Medicaid, both the number of people that the program covers and what is covered by the program. But both the GOP House and Senate bills as they stand would make significant cuts to a crucial program in our nation’s social safety net as compared to the current law.

However, Toomey is insistent that Medicaid isn’t facing any cuts, explaining his point of view in a CBS interview Sunday.

“I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we’re somehow ending the Medicaid expansion, in fact, quite the contrary,” he said. “We’re going to continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage.”

However, directly contradicting the Pennsylvania Republican, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that by 2026, Medicaid will face a 26 percent cut compared to the current law with 22 million Americans losing coverage under the bill.

So either Toomey was lying or he’s just doesn’t understand the bill he helped write.

This cut comes from the federal match rate — the amount of funding the government will provide for newly eligible Medicaid recipients. The ACA provided a match rate at 90 percent or above, but the House bill would decrease the match rate back to the pre-Obamacare rate of below 60 percent, and the Senate bill would have a similar effect.

But it’s not just people currently on Medicaid that need the program — new recipients are just as desperate for affordable health care, and slashing future federal match rates would leave 49 million Americans uninsured by 2026.

Toomey may claim that because spending doesn’t decrease, there aren’t “cuts.” But the CBO, and millions that would lose coverage if this bill is passed, disagree. The bill cuts coverage, it’s that simple. What Toomey and other Republican lawmakers fail to realize is that, amid rising costs of health care, cuts to proposed expansions have very real impacts on the lives of millions of Americans.

And when millions of American lives are at stake, nobody really cares about budget semantics. It’s time for those in Washington to provide health care to back up the boastful attitude in the GOP that Obamacare is broken. And here in Pennsylvania, it’s time for Toomey to come clean — either he’s ignorant to the how this will affect the lives of his constituents, or he just thinks tax cuts for the wealthy are more important.