Report: Corbett to Expand Medicaid
According to the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, he is set to make an announcement sometime next week.
Asked about the report, spokeswoman Lynn Lawson said an announcement would be coming soon and reiterated the Governor’s earlier statements that he would seek reforms and concessions before accepting expansion.
“Governor Corbett does not support growing an entitlement program,” she said. “Governor Corbett has been very clear about the need for reform. There are a number of interesting options to consider; they are under review.”
Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley confirmed that an announcement is forthcoming, but also noted that he will demand concessions from President Obama’s administration.
“The Governor will be formally announcing the details of his plans soon. I can assure you that Governor Corbett will not expand this broken entitlement program without significant reforms being agreed to by the Federal Government and assurances that a plan would be fiscally sustainable now and moving forward.”
Neither Lawson nor Barley commented on the specific details of the report.
Update: another Corbett spokesperson, Jennifer Branstetter, the governor’s policy director rejected the word “expansion.” She told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “This is not Medicaid expansion.” The report went on to suggest that Corbett’s administration will seek an increase in federal dollars – what other states have termed expansion – but with some structural reforms to be determined.
“Expansion” has become a pro-ACA buzzword in Pa. political circles, and the statements from the Governor’s office thus far could be interpreted as an effort to preempt conservative concerns about the plan by avoiding the word.
If the report is correct, Corbett would join a growing number of Republican Governor’s who were originally staunch adversaries to expansion but are now endorsing the program. At this time, 28 of 50 states are planning to participate, or are leaning in that direction.
Some of those states have requested and received special conditions from the federal government about the management of the funds and the program.
This plan is expected to insure an estimated 682,000 Pennsylvanians who were previously unqualified, representing the largest expansion since Medicaid’s inception.
Democrats have loudly petitioned Corbett to accept the program, while conservative grassroots have just as loudly protested the idea.
The costs associated with the expansion are going to be entirely covered by the federal government for the first three years. After 2016, the funding will begin to gradually drop off, with the federal government expecting to pay 90% by 2020.
For Corbett and other Republicans the main concern over expansion has centered on how long the federal funding will last, and whether the program is sustainable and effective in the long term. This summer 50 house Republicans in PA signed a letter stating that they would block the budget if it included Medicaid expansion.
However, a bipartisan majority in the state Senate backed expansion.
Previous reports have indicated that Corbett would only accept the expansion if significant reforms were made to the existing program.
“At this time, without serious reforms, it would be financially unsustainable for the taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion,” Gov. Corbett stated earlier this year.
Correction: an earlier version of this story said that Pa. faced an October 1 deadline to expand Medicaid. There is no deadline. Oct. 1 is the first day to enroll in ACA-created health insurance exchanges.