This is some of the worst he said-she said reporting I’ve seen on the Medicaid expansion debate. I’ve learned to expect this low quality of explication from Colby Itkowitz over the years, but Steve Esack is normally on point.
Most Morning Call readers don’t have the time to go and do extra research on the impact on health care costs from regular Medcaid expansion vs. the Iowa and Arkansas “private option” plans. Reporters do. Reporters can ask health economists and other experts who study this stuff for a living what the likely impact will be on the level of health spending in PA from Medicaid expansion vs. subsidizing private plans. This is a crucial point in the debate. You can’t just let Bev Mackereth spin this as a “creative” idea without that context. That’s taking sides, and it’s also taking sides to let them call this idea “Medicaid expansion” when it does no such thing. Medicaid is expanded when more people are enrolled in Medicaid.
At the top of Corbett’s option list now is a Medicaid expansion program akin to those being considered in Iowa and Arkansas. Those states’ plans are under “strong consideration,” Lawson said, while declining to elaborate.
To qualify for Medicaid now, an individual must have a temporary disability and earn no more than $11,490 a year. A qualifying family of three cannot earn more than $19,530 a year. Single, childless adults are excluded.
Medicaid expansion, as envisioned by the White House, would cover all single adults under age 65 who earn up to $15,857, and three-person households with incomes up to $26,344. Those not qualifying will have to shop for private insurance.
For the first three years expansion is in place, the federal government has pledged to pay 100 percent of the costs of new enrollees, estimated to be between 350,000 and 600,000 people. Pennsylvania and other states would start kicking in 10 percent of the costs by 2020.
Iowa’s and Arkansas’ plans now under review — but not approved — by the federal government would work differently. They would require newly eligible Medicaid recipients to buy private insurance with the help of the federal expansion dollars that have been promised from Washington.
The Corbett administration has been pushing that market-driven plan for months in talks with lawmakers and journalists in Harrisburg. The administration also has pushed a plan to require the poor to seek employment and be responsible for some sort of co-pay.