It’s been a rough, confusing month for Pennsylvania’s uninsured. The federal health exchange’s website continues to be crippled by programming-related errors and Gov. Tom Corbett has decided not to allow the state to participate in the Medicaid expansion, a part of the Affordable Care Act.
Instead, Corbett has proposed his own “Healthy Pennsylvania” plan to the federal government and is waiting for approval.
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Corbett laid out the problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in a recently penned letter to President Barack Obama. Corbett called the president out on the often repeated broken health care promise.
“We need solutions and options in Pennsylvania and for Pennsylvanians, not broken promises,” Corbett said. “On behalf of the over one quarter million Pennsylvanians who are losing their coverage, I am calling upon you to act and get government bureaucracy out of the way.”
Corbett urged the president to consider his “private option” plan.
“Why should a government-run portal be the required avenue?” Corbett asked. “As policymakers, our goal should be to provide more options, not fewer. Please consider using private resources and entities that have been enrolling people in health coverage for decades.”
What the private option will do is use federal funding from the Affordable Care Act to help low-income Pennsylvanians purchase private health insurance.
Arkansas is the first and only state currently where the private option was approved and is already having huge success, whereas the federal signup process continues to flounder. The Arkansas Times reports that 49,787 people have signed up through the private option in the tiny state. It’s an impressive number if you compare that to the federal government’s Healthcare.gov website, which has signed up just 27,000 people for the 36 states participating.
Corbett’s plan is also a major reform to Medicaid, which he doesn’t trust to be sustainable in the long run. There is a lot of common sense backing that line of thinking. The federal government in recent months has proven itself to be an inconsistent and incompetent partner for states, from the government shutdown to the way the Affordable Care Act was implemented.
A PDF of the plan on the Department of Public Welfare’s website says “core objectives” of the Medicaid reform are the, “Simplification of 14 outdated, complex benefit designs,” and “Applying work search requirements and a link to job training opportunities,” with an emphasis on “personal responsibility,”, able-bodied Medicaid recipients will be expected to look for jobs.
These changes will only upset some Democrats, the type who are against any and all restrictions on entitlements, but will be popular with taxpayers who understand that spending is a problem.
Major obstacles lay ahead for Corbett; the federal government still has to approve his health initiative and he needs to convince the people of the state that it’s better than the alternative offer of expanded Medicaid that so many north eastern states have been taking.
So far, he has not successfully achieved either of those goals, but is attempting to make some progress on the latter with a media blitz touting his plan.
Corbett is attempting to make the best out of the bad hand he was dealt. He understands that the government shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Private health insurance companies in the state already exist and are more capable than the federal government of handling the job. That’s been proven.
If implemented, his plan will still cover the uninsured Pennsylvanians who need it most and will save the state from plenty of headaches in the future when the U.S. Congress starts tightening its purse strings.