Inquirer Editorial: Better to accept health law

DEAN ROHRER
DEAN ROHRER
Posted: December 09, 2012

Gov. Corbett looks more and more like a stubborn holdout against covering the health-care needs of 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians under Obamacare. His excuse is that he needs more data on the state's costs for the safety net.

Lodging similar dollars-and-cents objections Wednesday, Gov. Christie vetoed legislation that would launch an online health insurance marketplace for New Jersey residents. Christie, too, wants to crunch more numbers.

All in all, on this issue, the two governors are sounding like they might fit in better in some place like the Show Me State. But as it happens, mirroring Missouri's decision to embrace the reforms in the Affordable Care Act would be a smart move.

That state's governor, Jay Nixon, recently concluded he had seen more than enough compelling evidence to warrant moving ahead with a key provision of the new health-care law covering working adults in Missouri.

Missouri officials, like those in Harrisburg and Trenton, had been on the fence about expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The fence-sitters included Nixon, a Democrat. The expansion, though, is critical to covering more than half of the 30 million Americans expected to be added to insurance rolls under the ACA.

The expansion will mean new out-of-pocket costs for states, even though the federal government will pay the full cost for the first three years and 90 percent after that. Those state outlays, however, should yield many benefits - by ensuring access to affordable health care for millions, as well as creating jobs and generating new tax revenues.

Indeed, that's the case that swayed Missouri's Nixon in late November. He came out in support of the Medicaid expansion on the day after the state hospital association released a report showing increases in health-care spending under Obamacare would create 24,000 jobs across Missouri. The taxes generated by those jobs would more than cover the state's outlays under the ACA, said the trade group.

As a Phillies fan once said in exhorting his team to reach the World Series, "Why can't us?"

Both Corbett and Christie seem so focused on the Medicaid price tag that they ignore the broader social and economic advances derived by expanding Medicaid to cover more working adults. The same muddled thinking blocks creation of state-run insurance exchanges.

But the new jobs that other states expect could be just as much of a reality here. Beyond that, the savings on unpaid treatment, coupled with better patient care, are seen as creating "a truly win-win scenario" by officials at area hospitals critical to the region's robust health-care economy.

By passing on billions in federal aid under Obamacare, Corbett and Christie would prevent their states from sharing in economic gains offered by the ACA. Even worse, taxpayers in both states could see their costs mushroom without getting as much federal help if Medicaid-eligible individuals apply for coverage anyway.

There's no denying that Obamacare is the right policy. Corbett and Christie should get on board.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|