The U.S. Supreme Court decision last month supporting parts of the Affordability Care Act, or Obamacare, caused celebration in thousands of Philadelphia households, but what many missed in their jubilance was the court’s decision to allow states to opt out of expanding Medicaid, the health coverage program for the poor.
With the election less than four months away, five Republican governors have already said they will not expand their states’ programs, while several others are undecided, including Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
“At this point, we have not made a decision on that,” state Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Donna Morgan said yesterday.
Because of the review, the department is not providing any estimates on how many residents might be eligible, Cooper said. “Right now, without us making a decision and since this is being debated on higher levels, we’re not going to give that out.”
A 2010 report from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimated that as many as 682,880 Pennsylvanians could enroll with the income guidelines expanded to $30,000. The federal government would cover all the cost through 2017, but scale back to 90 percent by 2019.
Some expect Corbett, who has shown no urgency in making big decisions, to take his time on the matter and possibly wait until after the presidential election.
“I don’t see any reason why he would do this before the election,” said pollster and political pundit G. Terry Madonna. “He shows no propensity to want to spend any money even for what most people I think would agree is an important need” such as transportation.
Madonna said the decision is unlikely to have much impact on Corbett’s approval rating, which reached an all-time low of 36 percent in June.
“I do think there’ll be a political price to pay, but not as much if he were cutting funds for a popular program,” he said.
‘Golden egg’ for Democrats
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said a decision to opt out would make Corbett an easy target for Democrats.
“Let’s say he does the worse and, what someone like me would consider immoral, and opts out … he is presenting a golden egg to those of us in the Democratic Party who would work vigorously and aggressively to show that he doesn’t have to do this when the federal government is covering most of the cost,” she said. “What is the harm [in expanding coverage]?”