During a summit Wednesday related to Gov. Tom Corbett’s Healthy Pennsylvania initiative, he expressed frustration with the federal government, even saying he’s nearing a “breaking point.”
Corbett (R) is seeking a waiver from the government in regards to implementing an expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act in 2012 left it up to states to decide whether to expand the program. About half have done so.
Corbett developed his own plan under which Pennsylvania still would accept the federal money. However, the recipients would then use that money to buy private insurance.
“We in Pennsylvania must find new and innovative and results-driven ways to approach these challenges,” said Corbett.
Roughly half a million Pennsylvanians are estimated to become covered under the plan.
Supporters of expanding the Medicaid program said Corbett’s comments show he should scrap his proposal and accept the federal money now.
The federal government has pledged to fund 100 percent of the cost of expansion for the first three years, then drop to 90 percent.
During a rally at the Capitol Monday, supporters of Medicaid expansion called on the governor to act.
“Stop being so stubborn. Take the Medicaid money on the table,” said Eileen Warner. In states that expanded Medicaid, coverage took effect in January.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Michael Wolf said he’s concerned about the long-term viability of the state’s Medicaid program, adding reforms are necessary to be able to pay for the program.
“If we just expanded, we would go from one in six Pennsylvanians to one in four Pennsylvanians on some of type of medical assistance,” said Wolf.
Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Welfare, said up until this week discussions with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “have been very positive.”
Gillis added, “But the frustration relayed in the governor’s comment was a reflection of the most recent call with CMS, where we saw an abrupt change in that spirit of cooperation and flexibility.”
Gillis did not respond to an inquiry about what specifically was said in the call.
The federal government is taking public comment on Corbett’s proposal until April 10. After that, Gillis said formal negotiations will start.