We are writing in response to the article, "Corbett to Back Medicaid Growth?" published Feb. 3.
The article notes that, if Pennsylvania does not accept federal funding to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will be forced to shoulder more than $1 billion per year in uncompensated care costs that the federal government currently funds. These federal funds will disappear in 2014 because lawmakers expected that uninsured individuals would be covered by Medicaid expansion.
The article does not spell out, though, the consequences of losing $1 billion annually in funding. Without expansion, hospitals and health systems could be forced to lay off thousands of health care workers. Some hospitals could even be forced to close. The funding loss could cripple Pennsylvania's economic recovery, which already lags behind the U.S. recovery as a whole.
In contrast, accepting federal funding for the Medicaid program would infuse an estimated $38 billion into Pennsylvania's economy. By some estimates, it would create hundreds of thousands of health care-related jobs. New health care employees would pay state taxes and spend their wages in their local economies.
Because Medicaid expansion has such important consequences for Pennsylvania's job growth, we were disappointed that Gov. Corbett did not endorse Medicaid expansion in his budget address. We hope the General Assembly will take this common-sense step to preserve and create jobs during the budget process.
KRISTEN M. DAMA
SHARON M. DIETRICH
The writers are attorneys with Community Legal Services Inc.