Full Medicaid expansion makes fiscal, moral sense

House Democrats remain focused on providing full Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for uninsured Pennsylvanians. The state moved toward that goal earlier this year when the federal government approved portions of Gov. Tom Corbett’s alternative plan for expanding Medicaid while preserving important protections to recipients.

Under Healthy PA, Pennsylvania can charge modest premiums for coverage beginning in 2016, but they must be in line with federal regulations.

Not only did Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan create an unnecessary delay in health care coverage for half a million uninsured Pennsylvanians, it also cost Pennsylvania hundreds of millions of dollars in budget savings and in lost federal investments in health care-related jobs and economic activity.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, had this to say about the Gov. Corbett’s Health PA plan compared to straight Medicaid expansion. “The difference between the Medicaid expansion plan approved and the Medicaid expansion plan the governor could have accepted and implemented on January 1, 2014, amounts to little more than wasted time and money. His plan makes Medicaid expansion less effective in Pennsylvania than in many other states, reduces the impact of federal investments in Pennsylvania’s economy, and adds another level of bureaucracy to the system. I don’t know how that adds up to Medicaid reform.”

Pennsylvania should embrace full Medicaid expansion, which would be paid for with 100 percent federal dollars through 2016. Beginning in 2017, federal funding would gradually decrease but would never fall below 90 percent.

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