• Baker: Congressional delegation must fight for health law


    BOSTON - Gov. Charlie Baker is urging the state's congressional delegation to fight a Republican-backed health care bill that he said could undermine Massachusetts' efforts to maintain its highest-in-the-nation rate of insured residents.

    The Republican governor is including his concerns in a letter he's planning to send to the all-Democratic delegation Tuesday. Baker also will outline potential federal revenue losses for Massachusetts if the bill becomes law.

    The U.S. House is scheduled to debate and vote on the bill Thursday.

    Baker said he's concerned the proposal could chip away at the ability of Massachusetts to continue providing near-universal coverage - particularly given the analysis released last week by the Congressional Budget Office.

    The report found that 14 million Americans would lose coverage next year under the House Republican bill. The number could jump to 24 million by 2026.

    Baker said the report shows how the bill could hurt MassHealth - the state's Medicaid system - as well as private insurance residents can sign up for through the Massachusetts Health Connector.

    The Massachusetts delegation doesn't need much persuading in opposing the bill.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter after the release of the CBO report and vowed to fight the plan.

    "Throwing 24 million people off their health care to give billionaires a tax break is heartless & irresponsible. We cannot pass #Trumpcare," the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted.

    U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said the bill "shifts the tax burden to seniors and hardworking Americans who will be forced to make a choice between paying for lifesaving treatment or paying their electric bill."

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has called the GOP effort to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care bill an "act of mercy," while U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy said the bill is instead "an act of malice."

    Baker said he'll continue trying to work with the Trump Administration, which he said has been open to working with governors to allow flexibility for states.

    The GOP proposal relies in part on cuts to the federal-state Medicaid program, forcing states to pick up the tab.
    Baker, a former health care executive, already has warned that federal Medicaid dollars are critical to helping insure Massachusetts residents.

    The state receives about $10.5 billion in federal Medicaid reimbursement each year, a little more than half of the state's total $19 billion in Medicaid spending, according to Baker.

    Massachusetts has the lowest uninsured rate of any state with about 97 percent of residents covered.

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