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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Coalition continues fight for Medicaid expansion

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 5:05 PM

Nursing student Britt Lawson was supposed to be the featured speaker at a press conference on expanding Medicaid held at the Consumer Health Coalition earlier today. But Lawson was unable to make it, said Rev. Sally Jo Snyder, because the 24-year-old's crippling medical debt forced her to have to work a double shift.

"We hear hundreds of those stories everyday," said Rev. Synder, who serves as the director of advocacy and consumer education at the coalition."We all know someone who is uninsured."

The press conference focused on Gov. Tom Corbett's refusal to use federal funding through the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. According to speakers, the governor has rejected $4.8 million every day that could have been used to provide healthcare coverage to 500,000 uninsured people.Twenty-six states have expanded Medicaid with the use of federal funding.

"Our inactivity is forcing us to pay for other people who have taken advantage of this program," said Rev. Randy Bush from East Liberty Presbyterian Church. "Stop playing politics with people's lives. It's costing lives now."

Starting at the beginning of this year, expanding Medicaid would've provided healthcare for individuals making up to $15,900 and families of four with income up to $32,400.

And State Rep. Dan Frankel said there are benefits beyond providing health care coverage for the uninsured. According to Frankel, who is preparing to address the state's annual budget challenges in June, expanding Medicaid would bring in $90 million in state revenue this year.

"We have an uninsured problem in Pa. [Expanding Medicaid] solves problems with the uninsured," Frankel said. "But it also solves problems with with respect to our state revenue. It solves problems with job growth."

Corbett has proposed his own solution to providing coverage for Pennsylvania's uninsured low-income residents. His Healthy Pennsylvania plan would use federal dollars to provide subsidies for individuals and families to purchase private insurance from commercial companies. This plan is pending approval from the U.S. Department of Human Services.

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