© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Contact 90.5 WESA with a story idea or news tip: news@wesa.fm

Pre-Existing Conditions Spark Health Care Debate In Pennsylvania's Race For Governor

Matt Rourke

A fundraising visit by Vice President Mike Pence has sparked a health care debate in Pennsylvania's race for governor.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, the Democrat running for Lt. Governor, criticized Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner for holding a campaign event with Pence this week. In a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Fetterman said the event proves Wagner sides with insurers over patients, because the Trump administration won't defend a federal law requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

“I just can't understand for the life of me why Mr. Wagner would want to do that to 5.3 million people [with pre-existing conditions] in a state that he's trying to be governor of,” Fetterman said.

“Pre-existing conditions don’t care if you’re a Democrat, or if you’re a Republican or you’re an Independent. It comes down to the simple fact that we all deserve access to health care and we should not be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition. And you have to wonder why Mr. Wagner would pal around with Mike Pence and Donald Trump, who want to strip all of that out there.”   

A Wagner spokesman says Wagner wants to ease federal rules, which the campaign believes will reduce health care costs.

“Under Tom Wolf, healthcare costs have skyrocketed and Pennsylvanians have struggled to find affordable options,” said Andrew Romeo, Communications Director for Wagner's campaign “When Scott is governor, he will apply for a 1115 waiver so he can provide people with cheaper coverage, including those with existing conditions.”

The section 1115 waiver allows states to set insurance standards that vary from federal rules. Wagner said in April that, if elected, he would favor requiring people who qualify for Medicaid to work 20 hours a week.

On Monday, Gov. Wolf joined seven other Democratic and Republican governors, including Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, in signing a letter that supports requiring insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

“I am proud to continue working across the aisle with other governors to present a path forward for our healthcare system that protects consumers, creates more choice and lowers the cost of insurance and care,” Wolf said in a statement.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.