Obamacare: Say No to Status Quo

A recent WSJ/NBC poll shows almost everyone supports reforming Obamacare. Only 4% think Obamacare is working well as is. A majority (52%) think it needs a major overhaul or total elimination, while 43% think it requires minor modifications.

Even Gov. Wolf has, in the past, admitted Obamacare needs to be fixed.

Unfortunately, recent reaction from Gov. Wolf and other Democrats to Congressional Republicans’ latest health plan implies they are fine with the status quo.

As my colleague Elizabeth notes, Obamacare is failing families and failing the poor, and solutions we’ve identified for years would actually reduce the cost of coverage, provide access to health care, and preserve a safety net for the truly needy.

Most notably, Pennsylvania needs to reform its Medicaid system. Costs are growing faster than taxpayers’ ability to pay, while the program offers poor quality care. As we noted in a letter to Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation:

Medicaid recipients experience more difficulty finding doctors and longer wait times than those with private insurance—thanks to low provider reimbursement and a maze of red tape. Worse, Obamacare's perverse incentives make the neediest Medicaid patients (children, pregnant women, the blind, and the disabled) most vulnerable to benefit cuts. 

The Affordable Care Act may have resulted in more individuals getting an insurance card, but it has done little to improve the quality or affordability of health care.

If there is one thing Pennsylvania needs in a replacement plan, it is flexibility to revamp our Medicaid program at the state level—not just for the expansion population, but for all Medicaid recipients.

Almost half of the Pennsylvania state operating budget (49 percent) is spent on Human Services, with the bulk of that—$26.33 billion—on Medical Assistance and Long Term Living (i.e., Medicaid programs). Medicaid alone consumes more of the state budget than Pre K-12 education, higher education, transportation and debt service combined.

Pennsylvania and other states needs the flexibility to redesign Medicaid to best meet the needs of our residents, which should be included in any health care reform legislation. The question Gov. Wolf and state lawmakers should be answering now is “If we could redesign Medicaid starting from scratch, designing the best program for Pennsylvania, what would that look like?”

No one should answer “status quo”.

There will certainly be debate over the best way to repeal and replace, or reform, Obamacare. But let’s be clear: Obamacare isn’t working; and those who offer only criticism of proposed solutions, without alternatives, are part of the problem.