First, Gov. Tom Corbett said the government couldn’t afford it and on principle declined to expand Medicaid. Then, in November he agreed to take the money and direct people to privatized insurance as outlined in his Healthy PA plan. There is bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion. In light of the commonwealth’s $1.5 billion deficit, it would have brought $600 million and 35,000 jobs to Pennsylvania. Once again, the Legislature failed to expand Medicaid — a failure of economic, health and moral proportions.
Medicaid covers basic dental, podiatry and optometric services in contrast to Healthy PA. These services provide necessary maintenance to help avoid disease. For example, one risk factor for cardiovascular disease is periodontal disease. It costs less to pay for basic dental services than to treat someone for cardiovascular disease.
There will also be serious reductions in mental health coverage under Healthy PA. Because of the reductions in this area last year, severely mentally ill people are being dismissed from therapy and their care plans are severely stunted.
Medicaid expansion would be a seamless process to get people coverage. Healthy PA is a swamp of hurdles and hoops to receiving health care.
We await word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding the Healthy PA waiver. Advocates for Medicaid expansion continue to educate and push. Why? Because it was, is and remains the best solution.