More points to ponder on health care
Multiple independent studies have detailed the favorable impacts that expanding health care access under Medicaid would have in Pennsylvania if the state government agrees to the program.
Medicaid expansion is one of the principal means by which the federal Affordable Health Care Act would increase coverage beginning in 2014. Under the law, the federal government would pick up 100 percent of the increased costs at the outset and the state government would contribute just 10 percent after three years.
It's a great deal at the state level. It would infuse nearly $4 billion a year into the Pennsylvania economy, boost health care employment and help struggling hospitals achieve solvency.
Last week, Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse offered another reason - the role of expanded health care coverage in reducing crime, especially recidivism by former inmates.
Judge Barrasse testified before the House Human Services Committee that alcohol or drug addiction, or both, played a role in the crimes committed by about 80 percent of inmates, and that about 45 percent of those offenders become recidivists after their release.
He appeared with Deb Beck, executive director of the Drug and Alcohol Providers Association of Pennsylvania, who testified that 800,000 Pennsylvanians needed addiction treatment last year, but only about 67,000 received it.
The implications are clear. Expanding Medicaid cover would enable broader access to treatment services, thus reducing the role of addiction in driving criminal conduct. Not only is the Medicaid proposal a good deal for the state government on its own merit, it has the potential to help reduce incarceration costs and the economic and social costs that go with imprisonment.
Mr. Corbett and lawmakers should approve state participation so that Pennsylvanians can benefit from its direct benefits and from the ancillary impact.