Governor Corbett made the right call yesterday when he decided to recommend against expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania. Here is my letter to the editor to the Philadelphia Inquirer explaining why the expansion is not free money and a bad deal for low-income Pennsylvanians and state taxpayers.
Senator Vincent Hughes claims expanding Medicaid will provide more Pennsylvanians with quality health care at little expense to state taxpayers. That sounds great, except that Medicaid is far from quality health care and the cost will be immense.
Study after study finds Medicaid patients experience poor health outcomes. A recent study in the American Journal of Cardiology finds higher mortality rates following heart surgery for Medicaid patients than those without coverage. Other recent research finds longer wait times for Medicaid patients, and that many doctors won't even see Medicaid recipients. Placing poor families in a health care system with limited access to doctors and low-quality care cripples those we want to help.
There is a better way. Congress must give Pennsylvania the flexibility to put Medicaid patients in charge of their own health care choices. Florida secured permission to take this approach in 2006. Today, their patients are healthier and happier with their care, while the state is saving $118 million a year.
Expanding Medicaid without reform, at the cost of billions of dollars for taxpayers, would be a tragedy. Pennsylvania families deserve quality health care, not just an insurance card with empty promises.