There’s No Such Thing as a Temporary Expansion

Last week, the House Health and Human Services Committee advanced HB 1492 to accept the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. This move would shift the purpose of Medicaid from caring for vulnerable populations, like children, the elderly and disabled, as the current program does, to covering able-bodied childless adults.

Some believe HB 1492 is compromise that allows Pennsylvania to receive the generous “federal funds” and leave the the door open for approval of HealthyPA—the Governor’s expansion alternative.

The Post-Gazette Editorial Board endorsed the idea, saying,

The measure approved by the state House committee meets in the middle. It would allow the federal expansion to go forward at the same time Mr. Corbett is trying to get the OK for his plan.

The problem is once you accept expansion, there is no going back. Robert Alt, president of the Buckeye Institute in Ohio, calls expansion a “Hotel California.” In testimony before Ohio lawmakers he explains,

While the Supreme Court stated that the federal government cannot condition the first dollar of existing Medicaid coverage upon a state’s decision of whether to opt into the expansion, it did not say that those requirements of federal law would not apply after a state has opted into the expansion.

There is no such thing as a temporary expansion of an entitlement program. Once the state commits to expand an entitlement, it can’t go back.

It’s time we pursue other ways low-income adults access quality and affordable care, like removing coverage mandates and fostering charity care through legislation like HB 1760.