Massachusetts could lose federal funds if health care bill passes

Governor Charlie Baker estimates the losses could be close to $1 billion

Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kevin McCarthy
In this March 8, 2017, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee Headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Republicans are working on a companion to their bill replacing “Obamacare,” a legislative second act that would ease cross-state sale of health insurance and limit jury awards for pain and suffering in malpractice lawsuits. The problem: the so-called “sidecar” bill lacks the votes in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

BOSTON (WWLP) – Congressional Republicans are struggling to get support for their health care bill, but they won’t find support from many Massachusetts lawmakers who fear the financial stress it could put on the state.

Top state leaders are concerned that the American Health Care Act would deprive Massachusetts of much needed federal dollars at a time when MassHealth costs and enrollment continue to rise. The Republican bill would cut off federal funds in the year 2020 to states that expanded Medicaid coverage.

“Massachusetts would lose people on insurance,” Amherst State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose said. “Depending how much money we lose and how much we can compensate, we might keep most people on, but it’s definitely going to have an impact on our state.”

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Governor Charlie Baker said that replacing the Affordable Care Act would result in a $1-billion loss in federal funding for Massachusetts in 2020; a loss he expects will increase in following years. Low-income, elderly and disabled residents who rely on MassHealth would get hit the hardest.

State leaders said that your tax dollars would be a last resort to fill holes in the budget, but they don’t think the state will be able to cover the health care bill.

“I’d like to see us return back to employers many times being the provider of healthcare,” State Senator Richard Ross told 22News. “Once we got away from that model and have gotten now into healthcare for everybody, it doesn’t work for those of us that are small business owners.”

Under the American Health Care Act, health coverage subsidies would be distributed based on age instead of income. The health care bill needs 215 “yes” votes to pass the House.