Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has called for the state’s entire Medicaid program to be fully repealed after the state was forced to cut its $3 billion budget to $2 billion.
“This is a national crisis.
This is a moral crisis,” Wolf said.
“It is time to end it.”
The state’s Medicaid program is the largest health care program for low-income residents.
Since January 1, Pennsylvania has cut $3.4 billion from the state budget, or nearly two-thirds of its budget.
The state also had to reduce its coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries, a program that benefits more than 1.6 million people, including some of the state health care workers who helped to lead the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states must cover at least 75 percent of their Medicaid spending by 2020, and by 2026, Medicaid spending must cover 95 percent of its needs.
Under the Medicaid expansion, states are required to increase the amount of money they spend to cover Medicaid recipients, and to help pay for additional benefits.
The Pennsylvania budget was originally intended to be cut by about $700 million.
But lawmakers approved a $2.6 billion cut that took effect January 1.
In a statement, Wolf called the cut “disappointing.”
“Our system of healthcare is broken,” Wolf told reporters.
“We must restore fairness and equality in our healthcare system.
That includes the repeal of the disastrous health care law.
It’s clear we need a fresh start and that’s what we’re looking to get.
We can’t afford to leave our families and children in this system anymore.”
Under the new legislation, Pennsylvania would begin removing all of the ACA Medicaid funding by 2020.
In 2020, the state would start covering about one-fifth of its Medicaid caseloads, according to state estimates.
The plan is the latest push by Republicans in the state to address the opioid crisis, which has claimed thousands of lives in the last two years.
The Trump administration announced this month that it will increase the federal funding for Medicaid by $8 billion in 2019.
In October, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that increased the federal money to states for health care.
The Medicaid cuts have already hit Pennsylvania hard, with the state losing $4.4 million in Medicaid funding in October alone.
In September, the House of Representatives passed a budget that was significantly less generous than the Senate budget, which proposed a $7.6-billion cut in 2019 to Medicaid.
In the new budget, the amount the state will receive for 2019 was $4 billion, about half of the amount proposed by the Senate.
In a statement on Monday, Wolf said the new Medicaid cuts were “a major step forward in Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid opioid crisis and will provide relief to our citizens.”