This RN is rallying in Philly for full Obamacare today

600px-Health_pictogram.svgWhen Governor Tom Corbett came up with his own unique form of Medicaid expansion earlier this year, few were excited.

The governor—who had been one of the attorneys general to file a lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the first place; and had refused to set up state exchanges in light of his general distaste of the bill—proposed a plan which would expand Medicaid to those making 133 percent of the federal poverty line under certain conditions. Among them: Proof of the beneficiary’s job search, and a small fee.

Republicans in the Legislature largely took an all-or-nothing approach and shunned their ruler’s hybrid idea. Democrats said they were at least open to working with Corbett on the plan. Activists, union members and community organizing groups aren’t being so polite.

Against the plan from the beginning, they, and others, will be holding a Halloween rally outside Gov. Corbett’s office later today, calling on him to expand Medicaid according to Obamacare’s original guidelines: With no strings attached, and federal subsidies.

It’s largely been lost amongst the media frenzy over Healthcare.gov’s bumpy rollout, but some states are still dealing with this very simple, but optional, part of Obamacare. The Medicaid expansion, as originally written in the bill, would have lowered the eligibility requirements for that government-subsidized health plan from the poverty line to 133 percent of it. The federal government would subsidize the whole thing at first, and 90 percent thereafter. That money comes, in part, from what used to be Disproportionate Share Payments, which the federal government pays to hospitals for uninsured patients who show up at the emergency room.

Many are worried that if Corbett doesn’t allow the plan to go through, the estimated 600,000 Pennsylvanians who would have become eligible for government insurance will be out of luck.

One person who says he’ll be rallying today is Craig Connor, a registered nurse and member of the Service Employees International Union.

“I’m really about people being covered because I work in the healthcare field,” Connor, 52, says. “I’ve always felt like healthcare is a right. We’re one of the only industrialized countries that doesn’t offer its citizens healthcare, and yet when you look at how much we spend on healthcare, it isn’t compatible.”

He notes that many of those who were against the Affordable Care Act in the first place, calling it socialism, would have been the same ones ripping Social Security in the 1930s.

Not necessarily worried about the Medicaid expansion failing completely in Pennsylvania, Connor notes “Republicans governors have been trying to make it not work, making it look like it’s not something that can work—that’s where the problems are. We’re going to continue to push to make him accept the whole plan…Him implementing what he wants to do is not really the whole Affordable Care Act.”

Openly partisan, Connor says he believes “right-wing” governors and elected government officials’ have hurt the initial implementation of the law by not going along with the original intentions of it. That said, he believes Corbett will eventually come around.

“When you work in healthcare, you see what happens to families, and I have to see it on a daily basis. It’ll be nice to see all of our citizens have equal access to health care,” he says.

Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso

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