This publication is your
opportunity to receive regular updates on
the work and the issues that I have been
involved with, both in Harrisburg and
throughout our community.
Please visit my website,
where you will find a comprehensive overview
of our work, various phone numbers and
contact information to assist you in solving
problems, opportunities to volunteer and
assist us in our programs and opportunities
to give your feedback.
Governor Corbett Must Make the Right Choice for Pennsylvania: Expand the Medicaid Program, Bring Billions of Dollars to PA and Help the Uninsured
On Tuesday, February 5th, Governor Corbett released his budget proposal. PA's economy is stalled, job creation is non-existent and the education crisis continues. The 2013-14 budget proposal continues to steer Pennsylvania in the wrong direction with short-sighted and ill-advised policies.
One of the most egregious proposals Governor Corbett outlined in his budget address was his decision to not opt into Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion is a great opportunity for Pennsylvania. Under Medicaid expansion, $4 billion a year would be infused into Pennsylvania’s budget, 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians will get coverage and 285,000 jobs would be created over ten years. By choosing not to opt into Medicaid expansion at this time, Governor Corbett has put Pennsylvania’s uninsured and our economy in serious jeopardy.
Below is my op-ed, recently published in the Philadelphia Daily News, discussing the benefits of Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania and why Governor Corbett should immediately decide to participate in expanding Medicaid. I will continue to fight for implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.
Medicaid expansion: Just do it, Governor
January 31, 2013| BY SEN. VINCENT HUGHES
PENNSYLVANIA has reached a critical juncture. Following the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, states can choose to opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion. The decision has been left in the hands of governors and state leaders.
Here in Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett has not yet reached a decision. This is curious because there is really little choice. Why? Opting into the expansion is a great deal for Pennsylvania.
By opting into the expanded Medicaid program, the governor has the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of uninsured, low-income, working Pennsylvania citizens, save our state hundreds of millions of dollars and provide a significant and much-needed boost to our economy, which will provide thousands of new jobs in Pennsylvania.
Medicaid expansion could provide access to health insurance to an estimated 542,000 low-income, working individuals in Pennsylvania, reducing the number of uninsured by 52 percent. Pennsylvania would receive nearly $38 billion in federal funds during the next 10 years to fund this expansion, giving a much-needed boost to our stagnant economy.
The savings are due to the ACA paying for programs that the state currently pays for in the areas of General Assistance health insurance, county health services and uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion will expand our economy and generate new tax receipts from health-insurance companies because they are being paid to cover more people.
Simply put, the Feds will pay for expenses that the state is currently paying for; this new money coming in from Washington, D.C., will dramatically expand Pennsylvania's economy.
The Corbett administration, once again using fuzzy math, has said that expanding Medicaid will cost Pennsylvania $4.1 billion over the same 10-year period. No one from the administration has provided the public with any data so that we can review the numbers and check for accuracy and integrity. We continue to wait for that information. However, it seems to me, and to many people, that if you have to put up $4 billion to get $38 billion in return, you figure out a way to make it happen. That's a better return than our friends in the casino business, and the Marcellus Shale business, are offering . . . by a long shot.
The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania estimates that Pennsylvania's hospitals absorb nearly $1 billion a year in unreimbursed costs for the uninsured and the underinsured - a cost we, as taxpayers and ratepayers, must absorb. With ACA, we have the opportunity to stabilize the budgets of these hospitals and provide better, more-efficient care to all Pennsylvanians.
It is no secret that Pennsylvania desperately needs jobs, and there is no question that Medicaid expansion is a job-creator. The Kaiser Foundation estimated that about 285,000 jobs would be created through Medicaid expansion. In a state that ranked seventh in job creation when Corbett took office in January 2011, and now ranks 34th in job creation, and where our unemployment rate is now higher than the federal unemployment rate (24 months ago it was 1.5 percentage points BELOW the national average), we clearly need this significant boost in job creation. Not to mention the added economic benefit of having a healthier workforce with half a million workers getting access to health care and reducing missed work because of illness.
The benefits of expansion would be felt throughout the state, far beyond Philadelphia's boundaries. In Erie, 21.9 percent of the city's residents are Medicaid recipients; in Clearfield County, 20.4 percent of the county's population is involved in the program, while in Allegheny County, 15.4 percent of the residents are on Medicaid. The list goes on.
The real issue is how can Corbett in good conscience refuse an infusion of $4 billion annually in new federal funds into Pennsylvania; the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs; unburdening our state budget of uncompensated care costs; and, most importantly, providing health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians?
Medicaid expansion will save Pennsylvania hundreds of millions of dollars, while extending health-care coverage to more than a half-million working families. If Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who famously showed her displeasure with President Obama and his policies by poking him in the chest during the last presidential campaign, can do an about-face and make the decision to participate in Medicaid expansion, then Gov. Corbett should be able to push back against the far right of the state's Republican Party and do the same for our workers.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Democrat, represents the 7th District.
Learn more on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes