Governor Tom Corbett's decision to pass on a federal opportunity to expand health coverage under the Affordable Care Act is a missed opportunity on many levels. It is a missed opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of hardworking low-income Pennsylvanians who would have the security of knowing that they can see a doctor when they get sick. And it is a missed opportunity for the state's health care economy.
A new report out this week finds that the optional expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — and the billions in annual federal investments that come with it — would support more than 41,200 new jobs across Pennsylvania's economy in 2016.
The report, released jointly by the Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Families USA, spotlights a wide range of health care and economic benefits that Pennsylvania would see by embracing this opportunity.
As we have noted, there is growing bipartisan agreement that expanding Medicaid coverage is too good an opportunity to pass up. Just this week, Florida Governor Rick Scott joined six other Republican governors in agreeing to the expansion, saying "While the federal government is committed to paying 100% of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care." Federal dollars would cover all the costs of expanded coverage from 2014 through 2016. By 2020, federal dollars would still cover 90% of the cost.
The new study finds that in addition to supporting 41,200 Pennsylvania jobs, an expansion of health coverage would also increase economic activity in the commonwealth by $5.1 billion in 2016, reduce spending on state-funded health care programs for the uninsured, and strengthen the state’s health care system. Increased jobs and business activity would also increase state revenue to support other priorities.
“The Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win proposition for the people of Pennsylvania,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "It would reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care; it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state; and it will strengthen the state’s economy.”
Is Governor Corbett listening?