Dems to Corbett: Take the Obamacare dough!

Posted: April 25, 2013

TOP DEMOCRATS in the state Senate came to Philly on Tuesday to increase pressure on Gov. Corbett to "opt in" to an expansion of Medicaid offered under the Affordable Care Act, or "ObamaCare."

Following a report that said the state could save hundreds of millions by opting in, Democratic Leader Jay Costa, of Pittsburgh, and Philly's Vincent Hughes, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, spoke at City Hall about the benefits they believe would result from an expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans.

"That money, that savings and that growth presents a tremendous opportunity for us," said Hughes, adding that the money could aid struggling school districts like Philadelphia's.

If all states sign up, the expansion would make an additional 17 million eligible for Medicaid, according to the White House. The Supreme Court last year struck down a part of the law that would have prevented states from resisting the expansion and gave governors the chance to opt in or out.

Corbett and other Republicans who opposed ObamaCare have made the expansion a symbol of their disdain. Their ranks have thinned, as some GOP governors, including Chris Christie in New Jersey, have chosen to take the cash.

Corbett has said that Medicaid in Pennsylvania is deeply flawed and that he wouldn't expand it without reforming the existing system.

The new report, by the General Assembly's Independent Fiscal Office, said the state budget would see an average annual benefit of $430 million until 2021, when ObamaCare is fully phased in.

Corbett spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said the budgetary impacts described in the study may be overstated because of changes in Medicaid's matching rate for certain state taxes. It's unclear whether those changes will happen and how they would affect Pennsylvania.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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