Our Statement on HB 59

Yesterday morning, in an effort to finalize state budget negotiations, the Pennsylvania Senate passed HB 59, with provisions imposing work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. The provisions also open the door to cuts in “nonessential” benefits including things like dental, vision and prescription drugs.

Medicaid is the main funder of behavioral health services, and imposing work requirements will require additional paperwork, expenses, and tracking processes, that will make access to healthcare more difficult for beneficiaries, including those with behavioral conditions. This is bad policy AND bad practice!

Furthermore, recent census data shows that nearly 3 in 4 people covered under the Medicaid Expansion already have at least one full-time worker in their household, and those who are not working report that this is due to a disability, treatment for a physical or behavioral health condition, caring for a sick family member, or because they are in school, looking for a job, or retired.

1.6 million Pennsylvanians are already enrolled in Pennsylvania’s high quality Medicaid program, and these proposals ignore their hard work and contributions to the Commonwealth, by creating mountains of red tape, and putting strain on both Medicaid beneficiaries and county offices.

Pennsylvania should be investing in the success of the behavioral health community, not wasting already limited resources on harmful proposals.

Mental Health Partnerships urges the Pennsylvania State House to reconsider these proposals, and vote against HB 59.