Harrisburg – June 10, 2013 – Senator Vincent Hughes announced today that he will offer an amendment to Senate Bill 977 that will require Pennsylvania to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Pennsylvania is eligible for more than $4 billion annually in federal funds to provide health insurance to more than 500,000 people. However, Gov. Tom Corbett has thus far refused to commit to accepting the money. Sen. Hughes plans to offer the amendment to Senate Bill 977 at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting later today.
“More than 500,000 hard-working individuals desperately need action on Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Hughes. “These are the folks who clean our bathrooms, serve our food, and take care of our seniors. They deserve access to quality health-care, which is why we need a vote in Harrisburg on this critical bill.”
Independent reports by the Independent Fiscal Office, RAND Corporation, and Pennsylvania Economy League have all found that Medicaid expansion will have significant benefits for the Commonwealth. Expansion will have a $165 million net impact on the budget in next fiscal year.
“We now have three independent reports that show Medicaid expansion will be good for Pennsylvania and have a positive impact on the state budget,” said Sen. Hughes. “The same reports show that there is no significant negative impact on our fiscal situation. Clearly, the evidence shows that passing Medicaid expansion will be a win for the Commonwealth.”
Medicaid expansion will also have a positive economic impact on Pennsylvania. According to the reports mentioned above, the annual infusion of $4 billion in federal funds will create between 35,000 – 40,000 jobs. Another report from Jackson Hewitt found that not participating in Medicaid expansion could cost Pa. employers up to $85 million in fines and penalties for not offering health insurance to their workers.
“It’s rare that we can create jobs without investing significant state tax dollars, but that’s just the opportunity we have with Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Hughes. “Given our struggling economy, every Senator should support my amendment to require Medicaid expansion.”
Back in February, Gov. Corbett estimated that Pennsylvania would have a revenue surplus of $232 million. That seems extremely unlikely, since the Independent Fiscal Office is now projecting that the Commonwealth may have a deficit of $500 million.
“We are getting closer and closer to the constitutional deadline for the state budget,” said Sen. Hughes. “Our fiscal situation means there are tough choices are ahead. However, we can generate significant dollars for education and other needs by participating in the Medicaid expansion. I hope that my colleagues will do the right thing and vote for my amendment.”
Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District and is the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.