Pennsylvania Deserves Flexibility in Medicaid Reform

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Without Fed’s Flexibility, Commonwealth Should Walk Away from Healthy PA

August 28, 2014, HARRISBURG, Pa.—The Commonwealth Foundation commends 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.”

However, the only adequate condition for accepting Medicaid expansion is full state flexibility to reform the Medicaid program. Pennsylvanians—not federal bureaucrats—know how to best serve our fellow citizens. Given the federal government’s unwillingness to grant Pennsylvania work search requirements or meaningful cost-sharing, it’s in the best interest of Pennsylvanians to walk away and pursue other avenues to truly expand health care access.

Expanding taxpayer-financed health insurance without fixing the old Medicaid system leaves the most vulnerable behind. In Arkansas, the Private Option is already prioritizing coverage for able-bodied adults over care for truly needy patients like Chloe Jones, a 14-year old with cystic fibrosis, whose drug coverage has been denied due to cost.

Worse yet, while sick Pennsylvania patients are left behind, private option plans will allow 122,000 adults to sign up for Medicaid even though they are eligible by income for generous exchange subsidies—that’s 23% of the new Medicaid population. 

”Sadly, this plan will only further limit the poor’s access to health care,” explained Elizabeth Stelle, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. Already, nearly one in three Pennsylvania doctors won’t take Medicaid patients, and the cost of implementing another portion of the Affordable Care Act—which has failed to reduce premiums and raises taxes—is simply too great. Stelle continued, “Pennsylvania taxpayers can’t afford to bear an increased financial burden that fails to serve those it’s intended to help. Washington’s idea of Medicaid flexibility doesn’t best serve the poor or taxpayers.”

In the meantime, the Governor can pursue real ways to improve low-income adults’ access quality and affordable care. One such way is to foster charity care through legislation like HB 1760 and allow doctors licensed in other states to participate in temporary free clinics.

Pennsylvanians deserve real Medicaid reform that encourages work and provides patients with robust health care choices.

Elizabeth Stelle is available for comment. Please contact us at 717-671-1901 to schedule an interview.

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The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.