Pa.’s Wolf, govs urge Congress to preserve extended Obamacare subsidies | Thursday Morning Coffee

‘Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians will be impacted if this subsidy expansion expires in October,’ Wolf said in a statement 

June 30, 2022 7:19 am

Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his final budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday, 2/8/22 (Commonwealth Media Services photo).

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Today is Thursday June 30, 2022, which means the current fiscal year will blink out of existence at midnight. And, as of this writing, there was no budget deal between the Democratic Wolf administration and Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled General Assembly.

So, with that bit of obligatory boilerplate out of the way, let’s dive right into the rest of the day’s headlines, shall we?

Speaking of the Wolf administration: On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf joined with 13 other governors nationwide to urge Congress to extend enhanced health insurance premium subsidies, underwritten by the American Rescue Plan, that are set to expire later this year.

Consumers who got their coverage through Obamacare paid an average monthly premium of $133 this year, down from $164 in 2021, after the tax credits, according to Morning Consult.

The federal funding also allowed people with incomes greater than $52,000 to qualify for federal subsidies for the first time. And more than a quarter of enrollees (28 percent) were paying $10 or less a month for their coverage, Morning Consult reported.

But without congressional action, 13 million of the 14.5 million people who receive their health coverage through the federal exchanges or their home state’s marketplaces could see higher premiums next year, CNBC reported.

“Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians will be impacted if this subsidy expansion expires in October, which will mean their insurance premiums will increase, putting individuals in a health and financial risk,” Wolf said in a statement.

The Democratic governor added that it’s “critical that we continue to make affordable coverage as accessible as possible to as many as possible.”

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Democrats on Capitol Hill are trying to save the subsidies, but their ultimate fate could well be determined by Congress’ Dr. No — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Politico reported.

The proposal currently under consideration would keep the enhanced subsidies in place for “at least another few years,” dodging the premium hikes. But it would “stop well short of making them a permanent part of the Affordable Care Act, sharply curtailing the overall cost,” Politico reported on June 24.

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill “had long hoped to renew the subsidies as part of their sweeping climate, tax reform and prescription drugs package. But Manchin has demanded a smaller bill that funnels half its savings toward deficit reduction,” Politico reported.

In a letter addressed to Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate, Wolf and his fellow governors argued that “access to affordable health insurance can sometimes mean the difference between life or death.

“At a time when governments at all levels are struggling to find ways to reduce costs for the American people, we cannot allow the looming specter of rising health costs to cause more uncertainty and stress for American families,” the governors wrote.” “Therefore, we urge you to take action and ensure funding is in place to preserve Affordable Care Act subsidies known as advanced premium tax credits.”

Letting the tax credits expire would “lead to a decrease in enrollment and an increase in premiums, destabilizing health insurance markets, and impacting affordability for the broader population,” they wrote.

According to Morning Consult, healthcare spending nationwide will drop by an estimated $11.4 billion next year if the tax credits are allowed to expire.

Senate Education Committee Chairperson Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, leads a hearing held at the Pennsylvania Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).
Senate Education Committee Chairperson Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, leads a hearing held at the Pennsylvania Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

Our Stuff.
The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate has again approved veto-bound legislation prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s school sports, Marley Parish reports.

The Pennsylvania Senate has approved two Republican-authored pieces of legislation proposing limitations on “sexually explicit content” and instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools, Marley Parish also reports.

The state House adopted a resolution Wednesday to investigate crime in Philadelphia and District Attorney Larry Krasner following fiery rhetoric from city lawmakers who accused the measure’s sponsors of trying to subvert the will of voters. Peter Hall has what you need to know.

Even before the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wadefinding good healthcare options as an LGBTQ person has been challenging due to a lack of educated medical staff and, for many, the lack of resources to utilize them, such as stable housing and income, Cassie Miller and Jason Villemez, of our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News, report.

The 84 people who signed bogus documents claiming that Donald Trump won the 2020 election include dozens of local Republican Party leaders, candidates for public office, and current and former state and federal office holders. Capital-Star Democracy Reporter Kira Lerner writes.

On our Commentary Page this morning: It’s beyond time to address the soaring cost of cyber-charter schoolsDavid Lapp, of Research for Action, writes. The new gun reform law passed by Congress, and signed by President Joe Biden, is a first step. We still have much work to doShira Goodman, of the Anti-Defamation League, writes. And to help our children reach a successful future, we need to boost Level Up fundingErie School Director Daria Devlin writes.

Mehmet Oz speaks at a 3/15/22 press conference in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso).

GOP Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is trying to heal the scars of a brutal primary season, the Inquirer reports.

Nope, the state budget won’t be done by tonight’s midnight deadline, the Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive’s John Baer considers the impact the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling will have on the 2022 midterms in Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood has seen a ‘wave’ of traveling patients since the Supreme Court’s ruling, WESA-FM reports.

Can your car use Sheetz’s low-priced gas this holiday weekend? The York Daily Record explains.

The Morning Call has more on the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill the state Senate approved on Wednesday.

Spotlight PA explains how Pennsylvania keeps its voter rolls updated (via the Citizens’ Voice).

High bills are raising questions about how Philadelphia Gas Works bills its customersWHYY-FM reports.

PoliticsPA looks at the GOP’s voter registration gains this midterm season.

A housing market slump would put the biggest stress on Black and hispanic reports.

Politico considers what the Dems can — and might — do on abortion rights with the toppling of Roe.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The House comes in at 11 a.m.; the Senate reconvenes at 9:30 a.m.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro. Admission runs $50 to $1,000.

As budget negotiations grind onward, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to Capital-Star opinion contributor Anwar Curtis, who celebrates another trip around the sun today. Happy birthday, sir. Hope it’s a good one.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s an old favorite from BoDeans that popped up the other day — and it’s been wedged in my head ever since. It’s ‘Good Things.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
The Baltimore Orioles dropped another one to Seattle, losing 9-3 to the Mariners in a late game on Wednesday.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.