Gov. Tom Corbett is among a small number of holdout governors, who’ve yet to offer a definitive answer on whether their states will extend Medicaid to more low-income residents.
Carter Price, a mathematician with the RAND Corporation, has visited Pennsylvania twice in recent weeks to talk about what’s at stake if the commonwealth rejects the Medicaid expansion.
Among many factors, he said, Corbett and other budget hawks should be weighing the cost of uncompensated care.
“If these states don’t expand Medicaid, some of those costs will still be borne by the state, because the people without insurance will require health care and someone will have to pay for that,” Price said.
Price works for RAND, an independent research group. According to his analysis (PDF of full report), a Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania will move another 350,000 people into health coverage and draw down about $2 billion in federal funding.
The federal government has promised to pay the bulk of the costs associated with an expansion. Still, according to RAND, the price tag for Pennsylvania would be an extra $180 million between 2014 and 2020.
At first, it seemed that states needed to give a straight “yes” or “no” to the Obama Administration’s call for a Medicaid expansion. In recent weeks, however, several states including Iowa have worked out compromise deals at the state level.
WHYY asked Corbett’s office if the governor is open to a similar approach.
“Several states now have taken different approaches from the traditional program, and while they may have passed a plan that works for them legislatively, HHS has some decisions to make,” said Corbett spokeswoman, Christine Cronkright in an email.
She said, the governor “continues to hope” that the Obama Administration will offer Pennsylvania flexibility.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Medicaid expansion are keeping up their creative drumbeat. Another rally is set for Wednesday afternoon on the Capitol steps in Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania Health Access Network will hang pictures of state residents to show the “lives on the line” if Corbett doesn’t get off the fence.