Lehigh Valley

Senator Casey, local school district criticize Medicaid cuts in proposed GOP health care plan

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Senator Bob Casey said the GOP health care plan could hurt school districts and special education students.

The House version of the bill proposes cutting $880 billion from Medicaid funding, which districts use to pay for services for disabled students.

Bethlehem district officials said it adds up to $600,000 a year for them.

"If that money goes away or is reduced substantially we still need to meet the needs to those vulnerable students and we will meet those needs, but they would then be met through local taxpayer dollars or by cutting other programs in our district in order to make that budget work," said Bethlehem School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy.

Senator Casey is critical of the way the Senate is putting its plan together now.

"I am not that optimistic about the senate bill even with some improvements," said Casey.

It's a closed working group of 13 Republican men. Casey said he believes the process should be more bi-partisan.

"If we allow Republicans in Washington, politicians in Washington, to do to Medicaid, what they are trying to do, it will change American life. We have a country where we say that if you have a disability we are going to help you in any way we can," said Casey.

Senator Pat Toomey said the health care legislation passed by the House is a starting point and the Senate will be drafting its own plan. Toomey is among the Republicans leading the charge.

"No one will lose their federal Medicaid eligibility and no one currently covered by Obamacare will have the rug pulled out from under them. Furthermore, the health care legislation passed by the House is a starting point and the Senate will be drafting its own plan," said a spokesmen for Senator Toomey. "Senator Toomey is always open to the perspective of any of his constituents and the groups that represent them who want to make constructive progress on ensuring Pennsylvanians once again have access to affordable, quality coverage.”

Roy said many school districts are keeping an eye on what comes out of Washington and how it impacts students.

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