Governors from Both Parties Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion

Originally published at Third and State

There is growing bipartisan agreement that the optional expansion of Medicaid provided by the Affordable Care Act is too good an opportunity to pass up.

To date, eight Republican governors have announced their intention to opt-in to the Medicaid expansion, including Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Michigan and Ohio. Altogether, 26 states are expanding or are leaning toward expansion of Medicaid. 

Support for Medicaid Expansion Growing
Map created by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

For Pennsylvania, opting in to the Medicaid expansion would extend health coverage to between 600,000 and 800,000 and bring an additional $43.3 billion in federal funding into Pennsylvania's economy through 2022. 

Governor Tom Corbett said during his budget address on February 5 that Pennsylvania would not expand Medicaid. Since then, state Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) has expressed support for the expansion, and Senate Republican leadership said its staff is examining the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid.

In late February, Governor Corbett said he would meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the issue.

In announcing his state's decision, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that expanding Medicaid "will provide health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income New Jerseyans, help keep our hospitals financially healthy, and actually save money" for the state's taxpayers.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said of her decision to expand Medicaid: "With this move, we will secure a federal revenue stream to cover the costs of the uninsured who already show up in our doctor’s offices and emergency rooms … Weigh the evidence and do the math. With the realities facing us, taking advantage of this federal assistance is the strategic way to reduce Medicaid pressure on the state budget. We can prevent health care expenses from eroding core services such as education and public safety, and improve Arizona’s ability to compete in the years ahead."

Opting-in to Medicaid will create jobs, strengthen our health care system, and provide health coverage to working parents, veterans, and seniors.

Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly should consider the benefits and savings that come with a Pennsylvania Medicaid expansion as well as the price of forgoing this opportunity — fewer jobs, a weakened health care delivery system and hardworking people without affordable insurance.