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article imageOp-Ed: Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania trailing polls, expands Medicaid

By John Presta     Aug 30, 2014 in Politics
Harrisburg - The Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act is optional for the states thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Every Democratic governor, except for one, is participating. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania became the ninth GOP governor to sign on.
In fact, Gov. Corbett was the first GOP governor to announce he would "not" enlist his state in the Medicaid expansion program in Feb. of 2013. At the time, Gov. Corbett wrote the former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a letter, "At this time, without serious reforms, it would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion."
Gov. Corbett went on to write to Ms. Sebelius, "Washington needs to stop treating Medicaid as a one-size-fits-all mandate."
Now, it apparently does fit. In fact, Vox reports the the Pennsylvania Medicaid expansion doesn't look different from their standard Medicaid program. The state is not pursuing the "private option" model being implemented in Arkansas; beneficiaries will get Medicaid coverage, not a marketplace plan.
Enrollment in the Healthy Pennsylvania, which is the name of the Medicaid plan, is expected to begin Dec. 1, with coverage to start the following Jan. 1.
For Gov. Corbett, it begs the question: Has something changed since Gov. Corbett was so adamantly opposed to implementing the federal health insurance program for the poor, which in fact costs the state "zero" dollars for the first three years?
The answer, as you might guess, is a resounding yes. The change are the voters. Gov. Corbett is getting beat up in the latest polls. A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows Corbett winning the support of just 24 percent of Pennsylvania voters.
Gov. Corbett trails his Democratic opponent, Tom Wolf, by a whopping 25 point margin, with 49 percent for Wolf and only 24 percent for Corbett. The 49 percent number for Mr. Wolf is really bad news in that it is one point away from being an insurmountable margin for Gov. Corbett, the so-called magic 50 percent number.
This is how bad it is for Corbett. According to the Washington Post, Gov. Corbett only leads among Republicans over Wolf by just 48 percent to 24 percent. More important, he trails with among moderates by a wider margin of 59 percent to 13 percent. Among non-white voters, he trails 58 percent to 2 percent (not a misprint).
The expansion into Medicaid may be too late for Gov. Corbett, however; it is expected that up to 500,000 Pennsylvanians could benefit from the Medicaid expansion over the next couple of years. Short-term, at least 300,000 are expected to enroll.
The announcement was made by CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, issuing a statement. “With the agreements announced today, Pennsylvania will become the 28th state, including the District of Columbia, to adopt the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, helping approximately 500,000 Pennsylvanians get the health care coverage they need,” said Administrator Tavenner. “Like we are doing in Pennsylvania, HHS and CMS are committed to supporting state flexibility and working with states on innovative solutions that work within the confines of the law to expand Medicaid to low-income individuals. But, unfortunately, millions of Americans are still without Medicaid coverage because their state has yet to act.”
It won't be long until every state opts into the Medicaid expansion, as the pressure of the electorate grows stronger.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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