Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Medicaid expansion is a must

on February 05, 2014 10:20 AM

After reading an article in the Los Angeles Times (December 2013), it is apparent Corbett is not going to expand Medicaid for those Pennsylvanians who need it — children, widows, veterans and anyone who needs expanded coverage.

His Healthy Pennsylvania plan is a sham since it will reduce health benefits for many of our neediest citizens and impose punitive conditions on their coverage. This plan requires waiver approval from the federal government that is almost certain to be refused because some of its provisions are a flagrant violation of federal law.

And if it would be approved, Corbett has waited so long to put his plan together that it wouldn’t be implemented until 2015, which means 500,000 Pennsylvanians will be medically uncovered.

The plan requires premiums to be paid by Medicaid enrollees with monthly incomes as low as $479 and pay $13 a month. If you make $479 a month, how do you find the $13 after paying bills like heating your home or buying food? And if a payment is missed, there is no coverage for three months; a second payment, no coverage for six months; and the third payment, nine months. This is counterproductive to say the least. Barriers need lowering, not raising.

Adults in the program have to sign up for “work search,” which again is a punitive feature barred by federal law — health programs are not employment programs.

The Affordable Care Act allows the expansion of Medicaid as a clear and simple solution — raise the income eligibility limits, add people otherwise uncovered, including single adults, and the federal government covers 100 percent of the cost for three years, and 90 percent or more after that through 2022. The 25 states that have refused are giving up $40 billion a year in federal aid.

Corbett wants it both ways by masquerading as a governor who cares but beneath the facade lies a cynical politician who knows his plan isn’t practical. When it gets rejected, he will blame Obama by saying, “We tried, but they blocked us.” Don’t be taken in.

Call your legislators and tell them to expand Medicaid. The number is (800) 515-8134. Give them your ZIP code and you will be connected to your legislators. This is a joint effort of 100 organizations called Cover the Commonwealth.

In the words of Paul Wellstone, “Politics isn’t about big money or power games; it’s about improvement of people’s lives.”

Judy Wanchisn

Marion Center

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