U.S. Senator Bob Casey was in suburban Pittsburgh Wednesday morning to advocate for protecting health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Casey was joined by health care providers and patients with pre-existing conditions at the Squirrel Hill Health Center in Brentwood, Pa.
It's estimated that more than five million Pennsylvanians live with a pre-existing condition, which can range from asthma to pregnancy to cancer.
Allegheny County Health Director Karen Hacker said the county's insurance enrollment went up by about 100,000 after the Affordable Care Act was passed.
"As a result of that, we are seeing more people who are able to get care, we're seeing more people who are appropriately using the medical system, getting preventative care and things like that," Hacker said. "And with the moves that are going on in Washington, those are all potentially going to unravel."
Amy Houtrow, the Chief of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine at UMPC's Children's Hospital, said she exclusively takes care of patients with pre-existing conditions at her clinical practice. She said about 20 percent of children in the United States have special health care needs, and about 8 percent have a disability that impacts their daily lives.
"Having good insurance means having good access to health care," Houtrow said. "When you have good access to health care, your opportunities are much better."
An ongoing court case led by 20 Attorneys General, Texas v. United States, argues the Affordable Care Act's protections for pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. Casey said this is unacceptable.
"We have a group of right-wing, Republican Attorneys General joined by this administration that want to rip away the protections for pre-existing conditions," Casey said.
Casey is up for reelection in November, and his Republican opponent was also in Western Pennsylvania this week. Lou Barletta took his "Red, White and Lou" tour to a handful of Pittsburgh-area sites, including the Butler Farm Show, to introduce himself to voters.
Casey's campaign has a five to one financial advantage over the Barletta campaign.