How every Pa. Cong. District would fare if the ACA is overturned | Monday Morning Coffee

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Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

You’ve probably heard by now that a three-judge appellate court panel in New Orleans dealt a potentially fatal blow to the Affordable Care Act last week when it struck down the law’s individual mandate.

While the case is ultimately destined for the U.S. Supreme Court, the law’s advocates are worried that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, for the 5th Circuit will destabilize markets and perhaps prompt some people to drop their coverage. And, by remanding the lawsuit brought by Republican state attorneys general to a U.S. District Court judge in Texas known to be hostile to the law, advocates also worry that other parts could come under siege.

“Healthcare in America should not come down to haves and have nots; left vs. right, or liberal vs. conservative,” Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica K. Altman said during a conference call with reporters last week. “This should not be a topic of political debate. People’s lives are literally on the line.”

But as new data released by the Center for American Progress shows, Congressional Republicans, who have yet to roll out a viable alternative to the ACA, have just as much on the line as Democrats if the Supreme Court ever strikes down the law.

Read on to see what that impact looks like in black-and-white.

All told, 857,000 Pennsylvanians would lose coverage in the event of the Affordable Care Act being overturned, a Capital-Star analysis of the data concluded. More than half of the impacted residents, 472,000 reside in Democratic districts, our analysis found.

The balance, 385,000, live in Republican districts. And while that’s a smaller number, the demographics and economics of those GOP seats are profoundly important.

Of the state’s nine Republican members of Congress, six of them: U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser, R-9th DistrictFred Keller, R-12th DistrictJohn Joyce, R-13th DistrictGuy Rechenthaler, R-14th DistrictGlenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-15th District, and Mike Kelly, R-16th District, represent districts contending with rural poverty, according to data compiled by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

In addition, four of the nine (KellerJoyceThompson and Kelly) represent vast districts, where residents already have to drive great distances to obtain healthcare.

The influx of uncompensated care cases, among Medicaid recipients, that would be the result of the law being overturned is a recipe for financial disaster for rural healthcare centers, which are already employing innovative methods to keep people out of the hospital in the first place.

House Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Scott Perry makes opening remarks during a hearing on “critical canine contributions to the DHS mission’” in Washington, D.C., May 18, 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo by Glenn Fawcett

The other three: FitzpatrickPerry and Smucker, each represent seats where there is less of a healthcare access issue. Perry’s central Pennsylvania-based 10th District, in fact, is in the middle of something of a hospital building boom at the moment, with Penn State-Hershey building a new hospital in Cumberland County.

But here’s where it gets dicey for them: Fitzpatrick and Perry are among the most heavily targeted GOP incumbents in the country.

Perry has made no secret of his opposition for Obamacare. And last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wasted little time using the appellate court’s ruling  as an occasion to tee off on Perry.

Congressman Perry’s attack on Americans’ health care underscores the recklessness he has brought to Washington,” D-Trip spokeswoman Courtney Rice said in an email. “Access to affordable health care isn’t a partisan game, it’s a life or death matter for millions of families in Pennsylvania and it’s time Congressman Perry listen to the folks he was elected to represent, not the special interests that would rather protect their own profits than keep everyday people in Pennsylvania healthy.”

And that’s the rub for Republicans: Polling has shown that, while some voters may have negative impressions of Obamacare, most think positively of its various provisions, such as the ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, or allowing young adults aged 26 and younger, to stay on their parents’ policies.

And as Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler reminded journalists on that conference call last week, voters may be reluctant to give that up.

“We’ve been promised there will be a ‘great’ and ‘beautiful’ healthcare system,” he said. “And nothing close to that has been presented by the administration.”

Our Stuff.
Despite a strong economy, poverty grew in one-third of U.S. counties, our colleagues at Stateline.org report.

From Stephen Caruso, a Capital-Star investigation: Pa. pension employees are taking pricey trips to Beverly Hills. But the costs are hidden. Why? And, also from Caruso, a patented Capital-Star explainer:  What is private equity and why are Pa. lawmakers concerned about the tens of millions of dollars of your money tied up in it?

From our partners at the Central Voice: In Pa. epicenter of the Civil War, LGBTQ voices grow in pride.

On our Commentary Page, Penn State public policy professor Simon F. Haeder argues that undoing Obamacare would do more than just hurt Americans’ health.

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Elsewhere.
People are dumping money into Pa. legislative races because the winners will control redistricting, the Inquirer reports.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered ‘fixes’ for dirty water supplies in Aliquippa, Pa., the Post-Gazette reports.
Allentown’s fight to collect taxes from nonprofits in the city is headed to state court, the Morning Call reports.
PennLive has the list of Pa. schools with the most expulsions. 

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

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Harrisburg Happy is the best kinda happy 🤗 as the year winds down, I love looking back on all that Cherishburg has accomplished & looking ahead on the possibilities to come. I set some intentional goals this year, but also said yes to unexpected opportunities & both held their merit. As we approach 2020, I want to remind you that action👏🏼cures👏🏼fear • Whatever you’re striving for in the year ahead, don’t let the fear of it hold you back from crossing the starting line. I’m excited to see where 2020 will take hbg • with all of us on its side, I have no doubt there are some big things in store #Cherishburg . . . 📷: @talesandtreesphotography #harrisburg #harrisburgpa #pa #pablogger #hburgmade #hbg #explorehbg #visitharrisburg

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You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to our old pal, Colin Deppen, of The Incline, and to Julie Blust, of 32BJ SEIU, both of whom celebrated on Sunday. Congratulations to both of you.

Heavy Rotation.
Our Christmas countdown continues this morning with another timeless favorite: It’s “Little Drummer Boy,” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Calgary beat Dallas 5-1 in Sunday’s Hometown Hockey match-up.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.