The Medicaid Peanut Gallery
The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, calls for states to expand their Medicaid rolls for low-income individuals. The Supreme Court ruled last year that states could not be compelled to join, but must opt-in. Unlike a few other Republican Governors Corbett has held back, citing the prohibitive long term cost.
It will be a campaign issue for sure; no matter what Corbett does, he is guaranteed to take lumps from one side or another.
A poll released today from Harper Polling showed the expansion in positive territory: 49% of likely voters support it, 39% oppose it.
Here’s what the Governor is hearing from the peanut gallery.
Democrats have universally panned Corbett’s decision to reject the funding.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (who has floated a 2014 Guv bid) wrote a letter to Corbett, which was forwarded to the press by his campaign. He wrote, “This expansion of the Medicaid program is a risk-free, revenue-neutral opportunity for your administration to facilitate economic growth at a time when Pennsylvania needs it most. To not take advantage of this opportunity would be a great disservice to the constituents you are sworn to serve.”
State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Phila), who has been crisscrossing the state for weeks exploring a guv 2014 bid, blasted Corbett in a statement last week.
“It’s sickening that too many Pennsylvanians either can’t afford health insurance or have very limited access to coverage,” he said. “There is no reasonable benefit to rejecting the Medicaid expansion plan; in fact, we should embrace the plan. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to help many folks who are in desperate need of health care and at the same time create jobs and receive federal funding. This should be a no-brainer.”
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco), who is all but certain to run for Governor, hosted a conference call on the subject last week.
Republicans, meanwhile, are loudly pushing Corbett to stay the course.
Americans for Prosperity is a conservative group who have most loudly pursued the issue for over a year. They called Corbett’s move a “profile in courage.”
“I applauded Governor Corbett’s decision last month coming out against the Medicaid expansion, a decision he made knowing full well the political firestorm it would create,” said Jennifer Stefano, State Director of Americans for Prosperity. “We urge him to continue to stand strong and show our Commonwealth and the nation what a governor does when he truly cares about the poor and the needy, and fights for the future of our children.”
Commissioner Bruce Castor, who has threatened to primary Corbett in 2014, sent him a note on the subject on Montgomery County letterhead.
“Rather than sending Pennsylvania down a path to the universally agreed upon disaster of some European levels of social and economic atrophy, I hope you will stand on your initial decision to reject the Obamacare Medicaid expansion – as several other Republican governors have done – and instead push for a voucher program for Medicaid recipients to purchase private insurance from an array of providers,” he wrote.
Next, a group of 6 GOP state Reps. penned a letter to Corbett urging him to “stay the course.” The signatories include Reps. Bloom, Cutler, Denlinger, Gabler, Keller and Krieger. We’ll call them “the winners,” because they’re not exactly the swing district types. They won re-election by an average margin of 81.8% in 2012.
“Regardless of one’s capacity to suspend reality and believe the federal government’s promise to make the payments, the money to pay for all of this still comes out of the same pocket, the taxpayer’s,” they wrote.
“We again congratulate Governor Corbett on his decision to reject the ill-advised Medicaid expansion and encourage him to remain strong. If Governor Corbett doesn’t stand up for Pennsylvania’s silent majority, the men and women who work to support their families and pay taxes, who will?”
Finally, State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) the trend. The Republican came out in favor of the expansion.
“A lot of people might not like Obamacare, but whether you like it or not it’s the law of the land,” DiGirolamo told the Bucks Intelligencer. “We have to make a decision that’s best for Pennsylvania.”
“I’d hate to see us leave that money in Washington. … These people are going to show up at the hospital anyway. We’re going to pay for it somehow.”