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October 22, 2014
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editorial

Expanding Medicaid; Health insurance for low-income households


A study by the Rand Corporation shows that if Pennsylvania were to participate in Medicaid expansion, “in 2016, federal [funding] inflows… are estimated at $4.7 billion without Medicaid expansion and $.7.2 billion with expansion,” an influx of $2.5 billion in annual federal dollars; this in turn, the study predicts, would fuel a $3 billion increase in economic growth and sustain more than 35,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. A study by Families USA draws similar conclusions, projecting even greater positive economic effect and larger jobs creation numbers; it also emphasizes how ACA would increase a state’s savings by removing the burden to fund numerous public health services that Obamacare would pay for. A third study looks at the particular needs of rural Pennsylvanians, where workers have less access to employer-sponsored insurance, where disability rates are 80% higher than in urban areas, and where Medicaid is a major source of payment for long-term care (covering seven of 10 nursing home residents). In addition, the report points out the importance of health care services as an economic contributor to PA’s rural economy, creating 15 to 20% of rural jobs.

As we see it, the benefits of accepting Medicaid expansion far outweigh any downside for Pennsylvania. First, as more Pennsylvanians receive essential health benefits, including preventative care, prescription drugs, chronic disease management and mental health benefits, the potential for a healthier population increases. Secondly, the high cost of finally treating long-neglected health issues when people are uninsured will reap savings in the long run, and the amount of uncompensated care will decrease. Thirdly, the benefit of accepting these federal funds to the wider economy and in jobs creation is a gain for all Pennsylvanians.

Accepting Medicaid would be a win-win for Pennsylvania; not accepting it would be a mistake.