Health insurance for everybody? – not yet

    Will Gov. Tom Corbett continue to decline Medicaid coverage for about 600,000 Pennsylvanians?

    Read deep into last week’s Philadelphia Inquirer story by veteran statehouse correspondents Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, and it seems he’s softened.The story notes that a bill favoring the Medicaid expansion offered in the Affordable Care Act failed in the legislature because House Republicans refused to go along with the State Senate’s bi-partisan support for the idea.

    The story quotes Republilcan Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi as saying he favors Medicaid expansion, and then there’s this….

    Pileggi also offered some rare public comments on behind-the-scenes negotiations, saying the administration had been actively involved in drafting language to meet its concerns about Medicaid expansion, such as requiring needy patients to make co-pays and look for jobs.

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    Asked Wednesday whether the governor would have vetoed a bill with the expansion, spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said, “We’re not going to talk hypotheticals on this.”

    Despite ideological opposition to Medicaid expansion among Republicans determined to thwart Obamacare, there will likely be increasing pressures to accept the expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act.

    States that opt out of the expansion will see plenty of their working poor go without insurance they could get, and their state’s citizens will be paying federal taxes to support insurance in states that accepted the help.

    And there’s already pressure in Pennsylvania from the Hospital Association, which sees an opportunity to ease the burden of uncompensated care its members provide to the state’s uninsured.

    These subjects and others, including how the online insurance marketplaces called “exchanges” will work are the subject of my Fresh Air interview Thursday with Wendell Potter, a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity who writes a column for HuffPost and blogs about health insurance issues.

    Potter is an interesting figure. He spent years as a public relations executive in the health care industry, then left and became a critic of the for-profit insurers.

    Our conversation focuses mostly on exactly what will happen as the insurance mandate takes effect, uninsured people begin to shop for policies online and the world of American health insurance begins to tilt on its axis.

    It’s informative. I learned stuff from Potter I was surprised I didn’t know. You can hear Fresh Air at 3 and 7 on 91FM. If you’re listening outside the Philadelphia area, find a station here.

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