Just the Facts: Medicaid Expansion Is Wrong for Pennsylvania

By Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong)

Contrary to prevailing liberal opinion, my recent vote against expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania under ObamaCare had nothing to do with partisan politics.  

In fact, my decision to protect Pennsylvania taxpayers, patients and physicians against this leviathan, unprecedented expansion of the welfare state was based on the following evidence regarding the statewide impact of Medicaid expansion in terms of cost and delivery of services.    

First, Medicaid in Pennsylvania currently requires 27 percent of the entire General Fund budget to adequately cover the one in six people already enrolled under the existing system.   Expansion of the program is estimated to raise the number of enrollees to one in four, or 25 percent of the population, and add billions of dollars to the price tag— all of which could potentially bankrupt the state and take funding away from education and many other critical programs benefiting children, senior citizens and the working poor.

That means if left unchecked, the Medicaid expansion language inserted by the state Senate, (based largely on the lure of “free federal money”), into the welfare code of the 2013-14 state budget would have resulted in 25 percent, or one in four, of all Pennsylvania residents becoming completely dependent upon an already failing welfare system. 

Additionally, Pennsylvania already spends $7,400 per Medicaid recipient, far more than the $4,000 to $5,000 per recipient in other states.   Furthermore, under the existing program, 32 percent of our doctors will not accept new Medicaid patients because of the extremely low reimbursement rates.

Perhaps the largest inconvenient truth for Medicaid expansion proponents is the federal government’s dubious promises to defray the initial costs of implementation and complete failure to explain to the Corbett administration how it will pay for such a commitment.

Given that the Obama Administration continues to blame budget constraints for its decisions to close the White House for public tours, withdraw the deployment of an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf, release illegal aliens and cut homeland security, there is absolutely no factual reason to believe that the federal government can pay for a massive new expansion of an already unsustainable entitlement program. 

For anyone who still believes the federal government will follow through on its commitments, I ask you to consider special education. The federal government promised it would fund special education at 40 percent. The current level of funding is only 17 percent.   Just two weeks ago, the federal government further reduced Pennsylvania’s special education funding by an additional $20 million due to sequestration.

In reality, the astronomical cost of Medicaid expansion for hard-working Pennsylvania taxpayers would be in the billions of dollars, at a time when they are already stretched to the limit to pay for their own basic necessities.  Regardless of good intentions, under ObamaCare patients lose, doctors lose and taxpayers lose. 

Due to the undeniable ineffectiveness, astronomical fiscal burden and all other previously referenced factual information, I simply could not in good conscience cast a vote to allow a rushed and dangerously flawed Medicaid expansion plan to become a reality for Pennsylvanians today or generations to come.

Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin
RepOberlander.com / Facebook.com/RepOberlander
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