Will Corbett Accept Medicaid Expansion Money? [UPDATED]
Opponents of health care reform did get one win in last week’s Supreme Court decision to uphold most of the law: Medicaid expansion will be left up to the states.
And now, throughout the country, Republican governors are going on record saying they do not support the provision and will refuse the federal money to expand their states’ program. So, what’s Gov. Corbett’s plan? If you guessed, who knows? then you’re on the right track.
The governor’s administration has so far been silent on their ultimate decision to accept the funds, although Corbett’s statement the day of the Supreme Court decision was largely negative.
“[Health care reform] may turn out to be one of the largest tax increases in the history of our nation,” he said last week. “It is a tax on our citizens that they cannot afford. It is a tax that hits our small businesses the hardest and will kill job growth. This law will raise healthcare costs for our families, our employers and our state. This is a burden to all of us who work every day to recover from the recession.”
The governor also noted he’d do his best to “ensure the negative impact of this law affects the lives of Pennsylvanians as little as possible.”
Those governors who’ve already decided or hinted against the funds are among the most partisan Republicans in the country: Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas, and others.
According to a Think Progress survey of the country’s governors on this issue, Governor Tom Corbett falls into the “Haven’t decided a course of action yet,” category. And Philadelphia Weekly’s calls to the governor’s office today have so far garnered no response. [RESPONSE BELOW.] Gov. Corbett was asked about this issue by Harrisburg reporters last week after giving his comments on the issue, but did not answer any questions.
As noted by Huffington Post, failure to accept the Medicaid money may result in problems for area hospitals, which are required to treat people with medical emergencies, regardless of their ability to pay. The American Hospital Association estimates U.S. hospitals were left with $39.3 billion in unpaid bills in 2010.
While Corbett’s called the law a “burden,” he’s also accepted grant money from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to help implement Obamacare. Meanwhile, back in April, his original budget slashed 89,000 poor kids from the state’s Medicaid rolls. And if his rhetoric and actions are a judge, it’s Corbett’s opinion that expanding Medicaid counts as a “burden.”
The way the Medicaid expansion works, the federal government would cover 100 percent of the cost in 2014, when the rest of the law goes into effect, with state contributions kicking in two years later and topping out at 10 percent in 2019. Pennsylvania’s cost at that point would be about $1 billion. Those people whose incomes are 133 percent below the federal poverty level would qualify. And Medicaid would be expanded to 17 million people throughout the country.
PW will update this blog if and when the Administration gets back to us.
UPDATE: Corbett Deputy Director of Communications and New Media Kelli Roberts writes by email: “The Governor has not at this time made a formal decision regarding federal Medicaid expansion, we are currently looking at the costs to assess true state impact.”