Reports began to surface last week that Governor Corbett was finally considering a plan to accept Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act. This caused some widespread and ultimately premature optimism that Corbett was going to follow the lead of 40 State Senators and do the right thing for Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, the details reveal that Corbett’s proposal is designed to be a massive giveaway to private insurance companies, while weakening even our existing Medicaid program. This proposal is a kick in the gut to Pennsylvania’s uninsured and working poor.
First, Corbett proposes accepting new Federal dollars, not to expand the Medicaid program, but to subsidize the purchase of private insurance in the State. This would ensure that a portion of our tax dollars are needlessly diverted to the profits of insurance companies, and that fewer uninsured working Pennsylvanians would get the health coverage they need.
Second, Corbett wants the Federal Government to approve changes to Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program that will allow the State to charge premiums to working age adults who are enrolled in Medicaid, or who receive subsidized private insurance through new Federal dollars. That would include charging premiums to working-age adults who are already on Medicaid, including the disabled.
Third, Corbett wants to establish a work-search requirement for Medicaid recipients, and for those who would receive new subsidized coverage under this ‘expansion.’ This concept is completely tone-deaf and insulting, even by Corbett’s standards (the same Corbett who earlier this year said that unemployment is high because the unemployed are all on drugs). If Corbett cared to understand the issue, he would know that the overwhelming majority Pennsylvanians who would be eligible for Medicaid expansion, as well as many current Medicaid patients, are already employed in full-time jobs. The work-search requirement is just another thinly veiled attack on the beneficiaries of government programs, to suggest that they are lazy and do not contribute to society.
This is a fact that Corbett and his allies should know well, because it is through their concerted efforts to drive down wages and keep them low, that we have this situation where so many full time workers are forced to be dependent on public assistance to meet their basic medical care needs, and those of their children.
Governor Corbett cannot possibly believe that the Obama administration will authorize this ‘compromise’ deal, certainly not when Medicaid expansion, with no strings attached, passed our State Senate in the spring by a vote of 40-10.
If Corbett truly believed in creating jobs in Pennsylvania, growing our economy, and ensuring that hundreds of thousands of additional Pennsylvanians have health coverage, then he would have accepted Medicaid expansion a year ago, instead of waiting until now to propose a plan that is nothing but an insult to Pennsylvania’s workers, and a taxpayer-funded giveaway to corporations.