Who Does Don Sapatkin Think Would Save Money From Tom Corbett’s Medicaid “Reforms?”

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Inquirer staff writer Don Sapatkin asserts in a straight news article that the Medicaid changes Tom Corbett is demanding will be “money-saving”:

Linking the two issues – a Medicaid expansion envisioned by the Affordable Care Act and money-saving changes in a program that he considers unsustainable – could achieve goals sought by liberals and conservatives. But it will require a delicate balancing act with both parties in Harrisburg as well as the Obama administration.

That sounds nice, but what are the changes Tom Corbett is actually looking at?

Corbett has made clear that he wants to change Medicaid. In recent statements, however, Beverly Mackereth, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, was more specific about what “personal responsibility” might look like. There might be a “work-search” requirement, for example, and co-pays for emergency-room visits.

That sure doesn’t sound like a money-saving idea. If I have Medicaid for my health insurance and have to start paying a co-pay at the emergency room, when I don’t currently, that makes it more expensive. It might save taxpayers a little bit of money, but nothing significant, and the main effect will be to make things more expensive for Medicaid enrollees.

And if my job just doesn’t pay very well so I qualify for Medicaid, making me waste my time on the completely useless Careerlink website to satisfy a “work search requirement” doesn’t save me any money or time. And if state employees have to spend extra time monitoring my busywork or helping me find a new job, that could end up costing taxpayers more too.

It also doesn’t make sense to say that subsidizing private insurance, instead of simply enrolling more people in Medicaid, saves money:

Corbett has also expressed interest in using federal Medicaid expansion dollars to subsidize private insurance, as Arkansas and Iowa are trying to do. His office has been exploring options with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mackereth has said, and is discussing possibilities in meetings with members of the General Assembly this week.

Regular readers already know this, but private insurance is significantly more expensive than Medicaid, and does a much worse job of controlling costs despite offering essentially the same access to care.

That is why a Rube Goldberg scheme of subsidizing private insurance plans will not be cheaper than a simple expansion of public insurance. There is no evidence to support this idea. Private plans are more expensive and do not provide better health outcomes. If we have a fixed amount of money to spend on Medicaid or private plans, we’re simply going to get less bang for our bucks with the private plans.

Tom Corbett has an unshakable political belief that private always equals better and cheaper, but there’s just no reason to believe that is the case with health insurance. It is far from clear that state taxpayers would benefit from this scheme, and the insurance plan beneficiaries would get more expensive, less expansive coverage.

The only parties who would benefit from this are doctors as hospitals who would see higher reimbursement rates from the private plans for the same amount of work (pure grift, in other words) and the tea people who get to swaddle themselves in a warm blanket of ideological purity.

This entry was posted in Economy, Governor, Health.

5 Responses to Who Does Don Sapatkin Think Would Save Money From Tom Corbett’s Medicaid “Reforms?”

  1. Pam says:

    I am continually amazed at the Corbett administration’s belief that people who qualify for Medicaid are unemployed deadbeats! Work requirement? Are there stats available that show how many working people qualify for Medicaid? And for a governor who has stifled job creation and laid off government workers and with his trickle-down taxes caused teachers and firefighters and police to be laid off, where does he think people will find work? Certainly not on the lame CareerLink system! And how on earth can someone who qualifies for Medicaid even come up with a co-pay?

    • Yeah the work requirement sounds like some kind of nonsense illogical play to people who don’t live in reality enough to realize that Medicaid expansion is meant to get low income workers covered somehow.

      A work requirement or work search requirement is pointless for those who are employed, but are under-employed through no fault of their own because of failed economic policies, as they wait for someone in charge to finally do something about the crappy state of affairs which makes it impossible for many people to get a “good job”.
      Have these people not read the reports… or talked to their own welfare department about how many Wal-Mart workers (currently employed) receive public welfare support?
      Even many employees of the state of Pennsylvania do not get health insurance benefits with their employment. And supposedly state jobs are “good jobs”.

      Here’s an idea… raise the minimum wage. That would get a whole bunch of people disqualified for the 133% Federal Poverty Level limit, since a single person making $7.25/hour working full time qualifies under 133% FPL.

  2. phillydem says:

    Considering the federal govt will pick up 100% – that’s the ENTIRE COST – of medicaid expansion for the first 3 year and then 90% thereafter, we’re talking about getting savings out of the 10% the state might actually have to pay 3 years from now, which, I might add, will be long after Corbett’s one term as governor.

  3. Julieann Wozniak says:

    Given the Corbett’s utter lack of compassion towards anyone but the wealthy, I am very certain that “savings” will be had only at the expense of the sick children of the very poor. Very Catholic of you, Mr. Corbett.

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