Pennsylvania Needs To Expand Medicaid Eligibility

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, issued this statement in response to today”s opposition by some House Republicans to the federally funded Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act:

“The Republican governors of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota have already agreed to accept federal funds to improve health care in their states because they know it”s vital for their states” economies, it”s vital for keeping hospitals open and it”s the right thing to do. , Ohio”s Republican governor and top aides “have spent the past several days publicly and privately” advocating to accept the federal funds there.

“The federal government is committed to helping provide Pennsylvanians with the security of affordable health care. Any Pennsylvanian who’s been between jobs, or starting a business of their own, needs to know that they won’t risk financial crisis if they or their family members get sick.

“For the first three years, all we need to do is accept the federal government’s offer to help. After that, we’ll put up one dollar for every nine dollars that come back to our community. For an administration willing to give as much as $1.6 billion to an oil company to build a cracker plant in the commonwealth, this seems like a common-sense good decision – not just morally, but also fiscally. The nonpartisan Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured puts the cost to the state at half of what some naysayers have been estimating.

“Pennsylvania currently receives more than $500 million in federal funding per year for hospitals for uncompensated care, and the state provides matching funds as well. Those federal payments for hospitals will be phased out since the Affordable Care Act instead provides for almost all Pennsylvanians to be insured. If we don’t accept the federal funds, we harm not only our constituents, but also our safety net hospitals.

“We could guarantee that 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians have access to preventive medical care, or force these residents to go uninsured and on safety net hospitals, which will be required to provide uncompensated care. If we choose to expand, we could guarantee that 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians have access to preventive medical care. Without expansion, these uninsured residents will continue to rely on safety net hospitals, which will be required to provide uncompensated care.

“Accepting federal funds for expansion would also be a great economic driver in Pennsylvania by allowing for the creation of potentially thousands of quality, good-paying jobs in the health care sector.

“Additionally, the American Academy of Actuaries published a decision brief in September that illustrated how refusing the federal funds could result in an increase in premiums for the private insurance market. It also stated that employers may be at greater risk of penalties in states that don’t expand Medicaid eligibility.

“The federally funded Medicaid expansion is a win-win for Pennsylvania. That”s why it”s being done on a bipartisan basis around the nation, and that”s what we should do here.”

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