Millions of low-income Americans have been guaranteed health care access through expansion of Medicaid as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
None of them are Pennsylvanians. About 220,000 state residents remain uninsured as the Corbett administration attempts to convince the federal government that it would be a swell idea not only to funnel federal money through private insurers, but to restrict key coverages under the existing Medicaid program.
Gov. Tom Corbett foolishly has rejected the federal law's Medicaid expansion, which has denied health care access for the eligible Pennsylvanians while precluding the flow of $4 billion of federal money into the state's health care economy.
Under the law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for Medicaid expansion for two years in states with governments smart enough to take the money, and 90 percent of the cost thereafter.
Mr. Corbett, an "Obamacare" opponent, rejected the Medicaid expansion in furtherance of that ideology, and doubled down with a plan to cut in private insurers on the state/federal program while reducing services under the existing Medicaid program.
Federal law makes several Medicaid services optional in participating states, including chiropractic, podiatric and vision services. Healthy PA, the plan the governor submitted for federal approval in March, lists those services as "not covered."
That would harm patients and the program. Diabetes patients, for example, are a major Medicaid constituency. Access to vision and podiatry services not only helps them to control chronic conditions, but prevents them from becoming acute and, therefore, more costly. Likewise, patients with back issues who find relief through chiropractic services do so at less expense than if they used other medical services.
The governor already has dropped a requirement that would have required enrollees in expanded Medicaid to prove that they are working or seeking work, which would have guaranteed its rejection by federal regulators.
He should do likewise with the other restrictions to help meet the goal of expanding access to medical care.