Corbett turns down Medicaid expansion
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett turned down an expansion of Medicaid under President Obama's health care overhaul because it would cost the state $4 billion during the next eight years and result in “a large tax increase” for Pennsylvanians, his office said on Wednesday.
“The bottom line is that, despite whatever funds come in from Washington, Medicaid expansion is not a free deal for Pennsylvania state taxpayers,” Corbett spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said. “The premise that the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the costs of expansion is simply inaccurate.”
Critics, including Democratic leaders in the state House and Senate, claim Corbett is giving up $4 billion a year that the state could receive by expanding Medicaid.
“We'd gain $43 billion in federal dollars over 10 years,” said Rep. Joe Markosek of Monroeville, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “There's a huge economic boost to the state that will be lost. There is also a huge human cost if we do not (expand).”
Cronkright disputed that, saying the government would provide the state $1.5 billion the first year and up to $3.5 billion in the fourth year. That money comes with “strings attached,” she said, and Corbett wants flexibility in spending it and the right to change course.
Nineteen states have tentatively decided to expand Medicaid enrollment. Eleven states have said no. Others are undecided. Some states that indicated they will enroll require legislative approval, said Melissa Hansen, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Corbett told lawmakers in his budget address Tuesday that he would not accept the deal promising billions in federal money to expand Medicaid unless the government changes its rules and allows states more flexibility. An expansion would require $221 million in the 2013-14 spending plan.
Pennsylvania law does not require legislative approval of an expansion, legislative staffers said.
In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, Corbett warned that “without reform, the only way to support these costs would be a large tax increase on Pennsylvania families.”
Pennsylvania provides Medicaid — health insurance for low-income people — to more than 2.2 million adults and children. Nationally, Medicaid covers about 60 million people. The state spends $22.6 billion in state and federal money on Medicaid, accounting for about 75 percent of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's budget.
The health care law Congress approved in 2010 required the expansion. Corbett, a former prosecutor, was among attorneys general who sought to overturn the law. In its June review of the law, the U.S. Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional for states.
Obamacare would add up to 800,000 Pennsylvanians to Medicaid, Cronkright said. Other estimates range from 500,000 to 600,000.
“This expansion would cover vulnerable persons, as well as healthy, able-bodied individuals,” according to a Welfare Department “fact sheet” Cronkright provided.
Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, a family of four could make up to $30,000 a year and receive Medicaid coverage, Cronkright said.
House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said the Medicaid dollars Pennsylvania declines will provide health care for people in other states.
But, Cronkright said: “Any money from the federal government is temporary funding for a permanent obligation on behalf of the state. This decision is not about the benefits for one to three years; it's about the long-term costs.”
Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers sign last of eight players drafted in 2015
- Chesney fans flood the North Shore to party
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Pittsburgh roots shape former Md. governor’s outlook in run for president
- Hydraulic lift accident kills man in Wilkinsburg
- Pittsburgh’s HealthyRide system begins launch Sunday
- Paddleboard classes focus on fitness
- Former city police chief released from federal prison
- Volunteers pull weeds, clear debris from Hempfield’s neglected 14th Quartermaster monument
- Padres snap Pirates’ 7-game win streak
- Judge: UPMC must provide in-network access to Highmark Medicare members