Pensions and transportation top the list of crises the General Assembly won’t address in their short fall session, but little has been said about the biggest budget buster facing the commonwealth—Medicaid.
Pennsylvania Medicaid spending (including Medical Assistance and Long Term Care) has grown by 83% over the past decade, compared to 45 percent growth in taxpayers’ personal income. Not only is the program growing at an unsustainable rate, it fails to deliver quality health care. Low-income Pennsylvanians in the program receive sporadic care with long waiting times, driving many to more expensive emergency rooms.
Thankfully, House Majority Whip Stan Saylor is shining light on the Medicaid crisis by introducing two pieces of legislation that together would improve care and return Medicaid to sound financial footing.
HB 2631 would prohibit the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, now optional under the Supreme Court ruling this summer. Expanding Medicaid, even with generous aid from the federal government, would require billions in additional state tax revenue.
Saylor also introduced HR 845, which calls for the block granting of Medicaid funds to the states. State flexibility is key to defeating this budget buster and giving vulnerable Pennsylvanians quality choices.
As Medicaid consumes 30 cents of every dollar state government spends, fixing this budget buster is a prerequisite to addressing deficient infrastructure, pension funding or tax reform. Representative Saylor and each co-sponsor of these bills should be commended for tackling the Medicaid crisis.
For more on why Pennsylvania should seek Medicaid flexibility over a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, see our policy memo: Pennsylvania Medicaid Spending and the Affordable Care Act.