Pennsylvania’s Poor and Taxpayers Deserve Better

September 16, 2013, HARRISBURG – Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, released the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Corbett’s “Healthy PA” initiative:

We commend Gov. Corbett for refusing to take the politically expedient route of putting more people into Medicaid without first reforming it.  Simply giving more people “coverage” is not the same as giving them “care.”  That’s why we support the Governor’s efforts to get greater flexibility from Washington, D.C. and more accountability in Harrisburg.

Unfortunately, we cannot also support the governor’s “Healthy PA” initiative that would create a new taxpayer-subsidized program for hundreds of thousands of new participants in the unproven and flawed Affordable Care Act health insurance “exchange.”  This plan would neither serve our neediest citizens better in the short term nor will it reduce taxpayers’ costs in the long run.

The Affordable Care Act may be the law of the land, but Pennsylvania can and should determine its own destiny in how it cares for the less fortunate.  We encourage Gov. Corbett to continue to push back against harmful federal mandates like Medicaid expansion while we still have the power to do so. 

We believe this plan will further limit the poor’s access to health care, while increasing the burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers who also pay federal taxes.  Already, nearly one in three PA doctors won’t take Medicaid patients, and the cost of entrenching the Affordable Care Act—which has failed to reduce premiums and includes over 20 new taxes—is simply too great.  Even labor unions like the Service Employees International Union, which supported the law with $12 million in TV ads, asked for exemptions to avoid the so-called Affordable Care Act’s rising costs.

Whether new patients are being insured through traditional Medicaid plans or new taxpayer-subsidized health insurance exchanges, the taxpayers are still footing the bill for unsustainable government programs.  Indeed, Medicaid already consumes nearly 30 cents of every dollar state government spends.  As Gov. Corbett and Secretary Mackereth have noted, this spending is unsustainable and will continue to consume tax dollars that could otherwise pay for other core functions of government.

Pennsylvanians deserve Medicaid reform that provides robust choice to meet individual needs, gives flexibility to tailor benefits and reduce unnecessary costs, and creates incentives for Medicaid recipients who maintain healthy lifestyles and seek preventative care.

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