Editorial: Corbett should back Medicaid expansion

I was en­cour­aged to learn about Gov. Tom Corbett’s re­cent meet­ing with U.S Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us. I was hop­ing he would see the er­ror in his be­liefs and de­cide to ac­cept fed­er­al money for the ex­pan­sion of Medi­caid un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act (ACA).

The ex­pan­sion of Medi­caid would make a huge dif­fer­ence for Pennsylvania res­id­ents, and it would also help im­prove the state’s eco­nomy. The math is simple. More than 600,000 un­in­sured adults would qual­i­fy for health care cov­er­age, cut­ting the state’s un­in­sured rate in half. The ex­pan­sion would also sup­port more than 41,000 jobs in Pennsylvani­an’s health care in­dustry. With the state’s un­em­ploy­ment rate be­ing high­er than the na­tion­al rate, I don’t think this is an op­por­tun­ity we can af­ford to turn down.

This ex­pan­sion would come at no ad­di­tion­al cost to the state for the first three years, as it would be fun­ded through fed­er­al money. After those three years, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would still pay no less than 90 per­cent. This isn’t a handout from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, though. Pennsylvania’s in­dus­tri­ous pop­u­la­tion has paid its fair share of taxes, but Corbett wants to give up this money and send it to all the oth­er states that have chosen to opt-in to the ex­pan­sion.

The Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor of Ohio, John Kasich, un­der­stands this, which is why he has en­rolled his state in­to the ex­pan­sion. So far, about half of the states have already en­rolled in the pro­gram, put­ting Pennsylvania at risk of be­ing left be­hind. By ex­pand­ing their Medi­caid pro­grams, these states will reap sev­er­al eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits, in­clud­ing stim­u­lated job growth and sav­ings on un­com­pensated care costs.

There are al­most 1.4 mil­lion cur­rently un­in­sured Pennsylvani­ans who don’t have ac­cess to ba­sic health care such as pre­vent­at­ive treat­ment, im­mun­iz­a­tions or pre­scrip­tion drugs. These people are our neigh­bors, friends and maybe even our fam­ily mem­bers. That is why I am join­ing with phys­i­cians, con­sumer ad­voc­ates, eco­nom­ists and oth­er law­makers from both parties to im­plore the gov­ernor to re­verse his de­cision and en­roll Pennsylvania in­to the ex­pan­sion of Medi­caid.  

Rep. Ed Neilson

169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­tric

You can reach at rneilson@bsmphilly.com.

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