Corbett skeptical on Medicaid expansion
HARRISBURG - Gov. Tom Corbett voiced skepticism Monday about having Pennsylvania participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program provided for by the federal Affordable Care Act.
"We have to look at the costs," said Corbett, answering questions on a variety of topics at a Pennsylvania Press Club appearance.
The governor expressed doubt the state budget could absorb the costs of a Medicaid expansion even with the federal government picking up most of the expenses. He said one factor that needs exploring is whether an expansion would result in individuals participating who are not enrolled even though they are eligible.
The administration is waiting for answers on questions about the expansion from the federal Health and Human Services Department, said Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley.
The ACA, better known as "Obamacare," gives states an option to expand eligibility rules for Medicaid to make access to health care more available. This is just one of several decisions facing states as the law enacted in 2010 starts to take effect in the years ahead.
Currently, Medicaid or medical assistance provides benefits to 2.2 million, or one in six Pennsylvanians. Children, pregnant women, low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly all benefit from various Medicaid programs. The program costs $22 billion annually, with Washington providing $12 billion, or more than half of the funding.
Medicaid doesn't cover many low-income adults today, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. The ACA creates an eligibility threshold across the board for low-income individuals at 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,415 annually for an individual and $26,344 annually for a family of three.
Pennsylvania could see Medicaid enrollment increase somewhere from 482,000 to 682,000 under an expansion, according to Kaiser.
Under the ACA, if a state opts for an expansion, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of additional costs starting in 2014. Starting in 2017, the federal share will gradually decline until it reaches 90 percent in 2020.
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