A new study shows that the proposed expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) would dramatically boost Pennsylvania’s economy and save the state hundreds of millions but Gov. Tom Corbett remains skeptical and reluctant to support the expansion.

The governor should approve expansion which would provide Medicaid coverage to everyone below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about 542,000 more Pennsylvanians, including 25 percent of those uninsured.

The governor so far has balked at Medicaid expansion.

Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said the governor has not made a decision on what to do about the proposed Medicaid expansion. She said he was concerned about whether the federal government would allow continuation of the gross-receipt tax now imposed on managed care organizations in Pennsylvania.

Earlier studies by the Rand Corp. and the Pennsylvania Economy League said Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania could create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate billions in economic activity.

The League report showed that Medicaid expansion would save about $4 billion in state health care spending over the next decade as people receiving state-funded coverage would shift to Medicaid and “uncompensated care” costs covered by the state would significantly drop. The League said Medicaid expansion could save the state $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Now a new analysis by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, a nonpartisan agency, also projects savings and revenue to the state from the expansion of Medicaid.

The IFO report also concluded that the state would save by shifting medical costs of General Assistance recipients to the federal government, and expanding tax revenues as the result of roughly $3 billion in new federal funds going into the Pennsylvania economy.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes said in a meeting last week with the Philadelphia Tribune’s editorial board that now three separate independent studies have shown that Medicaid expansion would dramatically help the state.

Hughes pointed out how the money saved and revenue created from Medicaid expansion could be a potential source for funds for the financially-strapped Philadelphia School District, job creation and other pressing needs in the state.

As a former prosecutor and Attorney General, the governor should be used to making judgments on the basis of evidence. Based on the evidence presented Medicaid expansion would be good for Pennsylvania.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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