Health care advocates called for Pennsylvania to participate in Medicaid expansion during a roundtable discussion held Thursday afternoon at City Hall.
The roundtable discussion, led by the State Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee, highlighted the impact of Medicaid expansion on Pennsylvania’s economy and uninsured residents.
In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act placed the decision to participate in Medicaid expansion in the hands of individual state governors and legislatures. Gov. Tom Corbett has not indicated whether Pennsylvania will participate in Medicaid expansion for 2014. The expansion could enable thousands of Pennsylvania residents to become newly insured under Medicaid.
“The decision to participate in Medicaid expansion has very serious implications for the commonwealth,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes, who opened the informal discussion.
“It is a policy decision larger than any other initiative the governor has done since he took office, and will have a far reaching effect on Pennsylvania’s economy and health care delivery.”
Hughes said the Medicaid expansion could infuse 4 billion in federal dollars into Pennsylvania’s budget annually and bring 285,000 jobs to the state.
The federal government would provide 100 percent of the funding needed for Medicaid expansion during the first three years of implantation and 90 percent for subsequent years.
During a presentation, Robin Rudowitz, associate director, Kaiser Commission of Medicaid and the Uninsured highlighted the cost of Medicaid expansion. She noted that the expansion could insure an estimated 719,000 Pennsylvanians by 2022. Rudowitz said without the Medicaid expansion, there would be large gaps in coverage and many adults would remain uninsured.
In addition to the Senate Democratic Appropriations committee, representatives from local hospitals, health care providers and advocacy organizations gave their perspectives during the round table event.
Some of the participants included Al Black, chief operating officer, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Don Schwarz, Philadelphia health commissioner; Dr. Arthur Evans of the Department of Behavioral Health; Richard Weishaupt of Community Legal Services; Peter Grollman, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Ann Bachrach, special project director, Pennsylvania Health Law Project; and Pam Clarke, vice president of managed care and finance, Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
“There are a number of reasons why the hospital community supports Medicaid expansion. The first and foremost reason: It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing for citizens to have health insurance,” said Clarke.
According to estimates prepared by the Urban Institute, the Medicaid expansion could bring an increase of $17.5 billion in payments to Pennsylvania hospitals.