RESOLUTION OPPOSING CUTS TO MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
IN HB 1500
 
WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program (MA) provides vital health care coverage to approximately 1.8 million low-income Pennsylvanians, including 581,518 persons from the 5-County Philadelphia area, and 446,343 residents of the City of Philadelphia;
 
WHEREAS, the population covered by MA consists of the elderly, persons with disabilities, parents, children and the working poor, whose income generally falls at or below the poverty level ($9,570 per year for an individual), and a significant percentage of whom must have income below 50% of the poverty level in order to qualify;
 
WHEREAS,
persons with MA coverage depend on that insurance to pay for medically necessary hospitalization, outpatient care, prescription drugs, medical equipment, behavioral health treatment, and other vital health care services and health care providers depend on such reimbursement to maintain a degree of fiscal health;
 
WHEREAS, the Administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005-06, reflected in HB 1500, includes draconian cuts to the Medical Assistance Program, including but not limited to:
     1. Limits on inpatient hospitalization for adults to either one or two per year, depending on the individual's category of eligibility,
     2. Limits on outpatient visits for adults to eighteen per year,
     3. Limits on prescription drugs to three or six per month, depending on the person's category of eligibility, and
     4. Limits on payment for durable medical equipment to $5,000 per year;

WHEREAS, the Administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005-06 includes the imposition of new or increased co-payments to MA recipients, which far exceed their means, including but not limited to:
     1. $25.00 for medically necessary use of a hospital emergency room,
     2. Up to $12 per prescription drug, and
     3. Up to $10 for a physician office visit;
 
WHEREAS, the proposed MA budget cuts would especially hurt those with mental illness, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, motorized wheelchairs, augmentative communication devices, epilepsy and mental retardation;
 
WHEREAS
, the proposed MA budget cuts, if enacted, would prevent poor people from accessing necessary health care, disproportionately impact persons with severe disabilities and the elderly, and have a devastating impact on the health and economy of the Philadelphia region and the state;
 
WHEREAS, the proposed limitations may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and other statutes meant to protect people with disabilities;
 
WHEREAS, HB 1500 contains provisions designed to insulate the proposed MA cuts from legal review and modification, including a provision that regulations implementing the proposed cuts would be exempt from Pennsylvania's regulatory review process, including review by the Attorney General, rulemaking subject to the Commonwealth Documents Law and review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission;
 
WHEREAS, HB 1500 will substantially effect the delivery of health care for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, without affording them with any opportunity to be heard concerning the design of the program and the lifesaving exceptions process and the circumvention of all provisions for public participation in the rulemaking process sets an alarming precedent for the future;
 
WHEREAS, by the terms of HB 1500, in the event of a successful legal challenge to the proposed MA cuts, the Secretary of Public Welfare is delegated the authority to reduce or eliminate services, co-payments, premiums, or eligibility in the MA program at her sole discretion and without any normal rulemaking process, in order to achieve anticipated cost savings.  HB 1500 further attempts to protect the Secretary's decision regarding all changes from the administrative process and from judicial review.
 
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
, that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to (a) reject all provisions in HB 1500 which would reduce the coverage provided to low-income people or circumvent the normal statutory procedures for the enactment of rules and regulations governing agency actions, and (b) work with the Governor to identify and implement alternative funding sources to resolve any budget shortfall.
 
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,
that the Chancellor or his designee is authorized to communicate the position of the Philadelphia Bar Association to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Governor.
 
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: JUNE 23, 2005