Virtually everybody seemed to be in general agreement (Obamacare, including the optional Medicaid expansion, is good; Corbett's alternative proposal, if submitted in its current form, will do less for the uninsured, hurt some of those currently on Medicaid, damage community health centers, and create reams of red tape, and major parts ultimately will be rejected by the Obama administration).
Twenty-four other states plus the District of Columbia are already moving forward with an expansion, and a 25th, Michigan, won approval for its own alternative last week and will implement it soon. Corbett's proposal to insure an estimated 500,000 people, part of his broader "Healthy Pennsylvania" plan, would not take effect until 2015, at a loss of $7 million to $10 million a day in federal funds.
"Healthy PA is not Medicaid expansion. Healthy PA instead pokes so many holes in Medicaid law - 23 to be exact - that it is barely recognizable as Medicaid," said Sol B. Vazquez-Otero, senior mental health advocate for the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, referring to the draft plan's 23 requests to waive various federal regulations.
Concluded Rep. Mike Sturla (D., Lancaster), the committee chairman: "I don't think there is any way that you can look at the current proposal and see it as anything other than a stall tactic."
The Corbett administration was not represented at the hearing.
Administration officials have said in the past that the state's Medicaid program is already unsustainable, requiring 27 percent of the state's general fund budget, and that they don't trust the federal government to continue to fund the expansion as promised, leaving the state with a bigger bill in the future.