Pennsylvania desperately needs Medicaid expansion. By closing the coverage gap we could help end the $1.3 billion budget shortfall utilizing the $600 million set aside for the commonwealth. The half-million working uninsured Pennsylvanians would be able to receive health care coverage seamlessly, and justice for all can exist if coverage is viewed as a right instead of a privilege.
Pennsylvania’s refusal to expand will impact everyone. Many individuals without coverage will become sicker and perhaps even die playing jeopardy with their own and our commonwealth’s wellness. In the most costly of scenarios, out of desperation they will be forced to rely on emergency room services.
However, this situation can be circumvented. Having a regular source of care is associated with greater and more appropriate use of health services. The Institute of Medicine found that poorer health, greater disability and premature death among uninsured workers results in negative economic outcomes for their families and employers, as well as the overall economy. The ultimate result of coverage is improved health outcomes and a much healthier commonwealth.
Medicaid expansion is 100 percent covered by the federal government until 2016 when it will become 90 percent covered. Because of our delay to expand Medicaid, Pennsylvania has left more than $400 million on the table and 500,000 working Pennsylvanians remain uninsured. With the expansion Pennsylvania has the opportunity to provide access to health care not easily afforded by all. The best solution for all is to close the budget gap by closing the coverage gap.
The writer is an intern with the Consumer Health Coalition.