Growing evidence: Corbett should heed the Pa. reports on Medicaid

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Every week seems to bring fresh evidence that expanding the state's Medicaid eligibility rules under the federal Affordable Care Act would be good for Pennsylvania. Let's hope Gov. Tom Corbett is paying attention.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that each state could decide whether to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Mr. Corbett approached the topic cautiously. He said he wanted to be sure it would be a good value, in the short term and the long run, if Pennsylvania agreed to raise the income limits for Medicaid eligibility so more of the working poor could be covered.

Lots of other governors had the same initial reaction, but eventually prominent Republicans including New Jersey's Chris Christie, Arizona's Jan Brewer and Ohio's John Kasich decided to go along. Under the expansion, the federal government would cover 100 percent of the cost of newly eligible enrollees for three years, and then the federal share would drop to 90 percent.

Earlier this month, Mr. Corbett met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. If that session didn't resolve all of his concerns, he can find ample support for the expansion in three new studies by respected sources.

There are slight variations in their numbers, but the Pennsylvania Economy League, Rand Corp. and, most recently, the state's Independent Fiscal Office all reached the same conclusion: Expanding Medicaid will mean health insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of additional Pennsylvanians, could create thousands of new jobs in the state and will trigger billions of dollars in economic activity.

The Rand study was commissioned by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, whose members would benefit from the expansion of Medicaid, and the Economy League report was prepared for the PA Health Funders Collaborative, an association of health foundations that works to promote better health care outcomes and healthy lifestyles. The fiscal office provides revenue projections in the state budget process and analysis to help members of the Legislature evaluate the impact of policy decisions.

Yes, some of these groups have vested interests in Medicaid expansion. But when diverse and well-established research organizations study the same data and arrive at the same conclusion, it probably means their judgment is sound. Gov. Corbett would be wise to follow their advice.



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