Part of the original goal of the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) was to cover the nation’s tens of millions of low-income uninsured. Signed into law in 2010, the ACA required states to expand Medicaid to either cover their poorest households (non-elderly adults with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level) or lose their federal Medicaid funding (covering 90-100% of state Medicaid costs).
This federally-funded Medicaid expansion would have covered 10.2 million uninsured Americans.
After 28 states sued the federal government to try to stop the ACA, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the ACA is constitutional but that the Medicaid expansion component should be optional. States can now simply opt out of Medicaid expansion.
Governor Corbett has so far done just that – refused to take federal funding to expand Medicaid eligibility to cover uninsured Pennsylvanians. Instead, he has submitted to the federal government a plan – Healthy PA – to use those Medicaid dollars in a different coverage scheme. The plan would have to be approved by federal reviewers.
Here are 10 reasons why Pennsylvanians should protest #CorbettCare and urge the adoption of Medicaid expansion – and what you can do to make this happen.
Healthy PA gets in the way of covering the uninsured
1. PA Governor Tom Corbett has refused to allow the state to participate in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion plan. This measure would allow 682,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians to gain access to affordable health care, almost entirely on the federal government’s dime.
2. Instead, Mr. Corbett’s “Healthy PA” plan seeks to expand health care to only 500,000 people. Healthy PA leaves 281,000 people who would have been covered by ACA’s Medicaid expansion completely uninsured , including 203,000 with mental illness. Tens of thousands will be without a path to coverage.
3. The Corbett plan would also funnel federal funds to private insurers, who would in turn charge premiums for this health care coverage. For tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians barely making ends meet, coverage at a cost is not an option.
Healthy PA is bad for Pennsylvanians’ health
4. Healthy PA would slash benefits for the 1.1 million Pennsylvanians on Medicaid – most of whom are pregnant, elderly, sick, or have disabilities – and places significant limits on standard care.
5. Those without health insurance typically delay treatment for both themselves and their children until minor health problems become major. They don’t get the medicines they need for chronic conditions and a parent’s poor health affects their children’s health and wellbeing.
6. The uninsured typically wait until their health is significantly worse before they access care. Their health outcomes are then worse and the cost of treatment is much higher.
Medicaid expansion is a step forward for all Pennsylvanians and for our economy
7. Medicaid coverage provides economic security for the whole family. Medicaid beneficiaries are 40% less likely to ignore other bills or borrow money in order to pay medical expenses. As a result, parents on Medicaid are more likely to pay other necessary household expenses that are important to their children’s health and security.
8. If Medicaid is expanded in PA under the Affordable Care Act, it will provide healthcare to more people and create more than 40,000 new jobs across all sectors of PA’s economy.
9. Medicaid expansion will bring our state more than $2 billion in federal funds each year. These new dollars will create at least $3 billion a year in additional economic growth.
10. Under Medicaid expansion, more low-income patients would have health coverage and hospitals would have less red ink from charity care. Less charity care means less pressure to shift these unreimbursed health care costs to commercial health insurers, which drives up hospital payment rates, and ultimately health plan premiums for all Pennsylvanians, to compensate.
Healthy PA places unnecessary and mean-spirited roadblocks in the way for people to get the help they need. Medicaid expansion, already underway successfully in most of the nation, is a far better and more efficient path. Health care options for PA’s working families should be determined by sound policy, not politics!