On Tuesday, June 4th, the PA House of Representatives Human Services Committee held a hearing on Medicaid expansion. The testifiers were Carter Price and Christine Eibner of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution that helps improve policy making through research and analysis. Price and Eibner have been researching and developing analysis for the Affordable Care Act since before it became law.
Price detailed some of the numbers that the RAND Corporation found in their study of the potential effects of Medicaid expansion on Pennsylvania. For example, there are currently 1.3 million uninsured Pennsylvanians; if PA expands Medicaid, that number would fall to 500,000. Price reiterated that 100% of the cost of those newly eligible will be paid for by the federal government until 2017, when it will drop down to 95% and in 2020 to 90% permanently. While Pennsylvania can opt out of Medicaid expansion, it cannot opt out of the exchange and mandate fees. Eibner highlighted the economic benefits of Medicaid expansion, stating that there would be $3 billion worth of growth in Pennsylvania’s economy in 2016.
Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), the chair of the Human Services Committee, says that he is in favor of expansion and wishes to propose a bill sometime this week that would allow for that expansion to occur. Although he is aware that there will be challenges with expansion and implementing other parts of the Affordable Care Act, he realizes that the consequences of rejecting expansion would be far worse. Medicaid expansion would cover working adults who would otherwise not be able to afford the new exchanges. Without expansion, they will be left behind, along with federal money that would have been used to insure them and boost our economy.
With Pennsylvania’s continuing high unemployment rate, it is also critical to note that the Commonwealth would stand to gain between 35,000 and 39,000 new good jobs as a result of Medicaid expansion.