Accepting the Medicaid expansion offered by Obamacare will provide a huge
economic boost for Pennsylvania, including tens of thousands of new jobs.
That's the argument of a national and a Pennsylvania group which have
partnered to build support for the expansion.
The numbers, released Thursday morning, are intended to counter arguments by Gov. Tom Corbett, who has said the expansion will cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions and might prove a bad move for the state. Corbett said this week he remains undecided about the expansion.
As of 2016, the expansion would support about 41,200 Pennsylvania jobs, including new ones and others that would be sustained by the infusion of federal funds, according to Families USA, a national group, and Pennsylvania Health Access Network. Both are advocacy groups that support the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which includes the Medicaid expansion.
The jobs would include new heath care jobs, jobs related to health care construction projects, and jobs indirectly created or sustained as the result of wages related to the federal funds.
The expansion would pull $3.5 billion in federal funds to Pennsylvania in 2016, with the money intended to cover the medical care of an estimated 682,000 presently uninsured people who would be covered by Medicaid.
Because of a "multiplier effect," the federal funds would result in $5.1 billion in economic activity, the advocacy groups said.
While the annual funding for the expansion could start rolling in as early as next year, the advocacy groups said they focused on 2016 because that's when full Medicaid enrollment is likely to be reached.
Medicaid is the state-federal program created in the 1960s to pay for health care for people with lower incomes. The expansion would extend the coverage to people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $15,000 for a single person and $31,000 for a family of four.
The original version of the Affordable Care Act required states to carry out the Medicaid expansion. But the U.S. Supreme Court decision of last summer, which upheld the bulk of the ACA, ruled it was unconstitutional to require states to expand Medicaid.
The expansion, now voluntary, begins covering people on Jan. 1, 2014. There is no deadline for states to sign up.
The federal government promises to cover 100 percent of the medical costs of the expansion for the first three years, with the federally share shrinking to 90 percent in 2020 and thereafter.
But Corbett has argued there will still be major costs to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
These include administrative costs, plus what has come to be known as "woodwork" costs -- people who are already eligible for Medicare but not signed up, and who will come forward due to publicity surrounding the expansion. The Corbett administration says there's an additional group of people who will drop their present coverage, or their employer will drop it, and shift to Medicaid.
These people, the administration says, would fall under existing Medicaid, which is split roughly 50-50 between the state and federal governments.
The administration has said Pennsylvania's annual costs, including state savings resulting from the expanded coverage, for the first four years beginning in 2013-2014, would be: $222 million, $378 million, $364 million and $413 million.
He has further said the federal government has yet to answer important questions about the expansion, and expressed major doubt about the federal's government's ability to keep the promise to cover most of the costs.
"Right now, on one has convinced me we have the dollars," he said this week during a meeting with The Patriot-News/PennLive editorial board.
On Thursday, the advocacy groups offered an array of arguments in favor of the expansion. This included the benefit to Pennsylvania hospitals, who say they are spending nearly $1 billion annually to care for the uninsured.
The groups also offered a different take on the "woodwork" costs, arguing many people eligible for current Mediciad will come forward, even if Pennsylvania rejects the expansion, because of publicity surrounding the official start of the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, 2014.
As of Thursday, seven Republican governors had decided to carry out the expansion.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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