PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Just as the opioid crisis is killing thousands, says U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, the latest Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act would deny needed insurance for families.
“This is a venomous snake that will hurt a lot of people,” Casey told a gathering in McKees Rocks on Thursday. “Everyone in this room will be affected eventually because we are all diminished as a society and as an economy when people lose their health insurance. When the guy next to me loses his health insurance, I’m worse off, too.”
Casey said Graham-Cassidy, the latest GOP repeal bill, is similar to the others that knocked people off insurance and allowed states to gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
But Graham-Cassidy’s impact on 125,000 Pennsylvanians eligible for opioid treatment particularly angered the senator.
“One-hundred-twenty-five thousand people, the very program this bill will decimate and end,” Casey said.
Michelle Schwartzmier lost her daughter, Casey, to an overdose because her insurance denied coverage for her rehabilitation treatment.
“My daughter was due to go to rehab after weeks of struggling to find a bed. She was scheduled to leave on Jan. 2. On Jan. 1, I was informed that my insurance changed, and her bed was no longer available to her. It was given to somebody else,” said Schwartzmier, of Ross Twp.
Ten days later, Casey died.
Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Karen Hacker said Graham-Cassidy was unbelievable.
“In the middle of a crisis that we are facing right now with opioids, it would — what can I say, again, I am almost speechless,” she said.
Schwartzmier says thousands have reached out to her with similar issues.
“My daughter struggled with addiction, and she died,” she said. “If we don’t speak out and get the health care they need, more will die.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Graham-Cassidy repeal of the Affordable Care Act next week.