Corbett’s Wise Medicaid Stance

While advocates of expanding the welfare state are using new studies to push Gov. Tom Corbett to expand Medicaid, his position of resisting the “free money” argument is wise given the political realities.

For starters, the Department of Health and Human Services has not approved a single state’s Medicaid expansion, according to PA Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth in a Capitolwire interview (subscription required).

In fact, lawmakers in several states voted to reject such ill-advised plans after their Governors’ calls for approval.

In Ohio, Gov. Kasich’s expansion proposal was rejected by House and Senate Republicans. In Arizona,  lawmakers are resisting Governor Brewer’s expansion proposal, while the Florida House and Senate squashed Governor Scott’s expansion effort. Most recently, the Michigan House passed a budget without Medicaid expansion despite Governor Snyder’s pro-expansion stance.

Even the private option compromise negotiated between Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after a close-call in the legislature is not guaranteed approval.

Moreover, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s request for an Arkansas-style deal with added flexibility was rejected. HHS then promptly released a memo explaining that any flexibility granted to states would be extremely limited and the Arkansas plan will expire in 2017.

Earlier this month at a Heritage Foundation event, Governor Corbett noted Pennsylvania would consider Medicaid expansion only if the flexibility to reform Medicaid was on the table:

I can’t consider doing anything on expansion until I see reform. We’ll see whether they are willing to give us the reform that is necessary.

Unfortunately, the federal government seems unwilling to allow states any real flexibility to reform Medicaid, while federal officials constantly change the rules. From President Obama’s budget proposal to reduce the 90% Medicaid expansion match, to Congress’s attempt to repeal the Medical Device Tax, to elimination of the CLASS entitlement program, it should be clear the Affordable Care Act is in serious trouble. Governor Corbett is wise in his reluctance to further entangle the state in this mess.