Accelify Blog

Corbett: Expanded Medicaid Too Costly for Pennsylvania (PA)

March 30, 2011

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett says the Medicaid expansion under the year-old federal health care law will be unaffordable for Pennsylvania, and he’s urging the courts to help states settle the matter.

He and other governors are asking for speedy consideration of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of that law. In the meantime, Mr. Corbett is waiting "a few months" before deciding whether the state should start crafting a state insurance exchange.

If the state does not set up an insurance marketplace by 2014, it would be run by the federal government.

Lack of information on that law’s requirements was a problem that Mr. Corbett testified about Wednesday at a U.S. House committee field hearing. He and his insurance and welfare department secretaries talked about challenges the state has faced in beginning to implement the federal health care law.

In his previous role as state attorney general, Mr. Corbett joined in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the federal law. That suit and several other similar cases are working their way through the court system, while states are left to begin enacting portions of the law.

Enacting the required changes will add another 750,000 Pennsylvanians to the state Medicaid rolls, Mr. Corbett said. That would mean one in four state residents would be receiving Medicaid benefits at a cost he described as unsustainable.

The state already spends 30 percent of its operating budget on Medicaid, he said.

"That means that before we spend one penny on schools , on roads, police, firemen, infrastructure, we will only have 70 cents of our state dollar left," Mr. Corbett said. "With the commonwealth facing a tremendous budget shortfall in the billions this year, we simply cannot afford the expansion of Medicaid."

Outside the hearing room, supporters of the health care law said they’re counting on the anticipated insurance exchanges to help them gain coverage.

Cal Schuchman, 61, a Reserve resident who until recently worked as a security guard, said he was on the state’s adultBasic program for more than three years. That coverage ended this month, and he’s unable to afford the insurance that the state made available to adultBasic recipients.

Without health insurance, Mr. Schuchman said he’ll continue exercising and eating a balanced diet, which he sees as his only options to stay healthy until the insurance exchanges are created.

"There shouldn’t be any juggling act here finding funding — this is a necessity," he said.