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Survey: Most Pennsylvanians Want State to Accept Medicaid Expansion

Tara Murtha

A new survey reveals that 59 percent of Pennsylvanians want Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Pennsylvania is one of 24 states rejecting Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite the fact that the state has an increasing number of uninsured residents, bucking the national trend.

A new survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for reveals that 59 percent of respondents want Gov. Tom Corbett to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid. Thirty percent think he shouldn’t expand Medicaid, and 11 percent are undecided.

Only 34 percent of respondents said they would vote to re-elect Corbett, a Republican, if casting a vote today, while 56 percent said they’d vote for whatever Democratic candidate wins the primary. (Forty-nine percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 40 percent as Republican, and 11 percent as independent or other.)

The ACA was designed to provide a continuum of coverage for people across the socioeconomic spectrum. But without the Medicaid expansion part, people who earn too much for traditional Medicaid but not enough to qualify for a tax subsidy to purchase a private plan are left in the “Medicaid gap,” with no coverage at all. Approximately 500,000 Pennsylvanians fall into the Pennsylvania Medicaid gap, according to Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

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Just this week, citizens and activists gathered in Harrisburg to rally for Medicaid expansion. The rally came in the wake of Corbett’s comments that he is “reaching his breaking point” regarding negotiating his proposed alternative to expansion, called Healthy PA, with the federal government.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“We’ve been negotiating for a year and I am starting to feel like a yo-yo,” Corbett told reporters after addressing doctors and health professionals at a state-sponsored public health conference. “You go down one lane and then they pull you back.”

Experts have consistently expressed concern that the federal government would reject Healthy PA because it includes several provisions that federal officials already rejected in other states. Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare Beverly D. Mackereth has said Pennsylvania officials “had the impression” that Healthy PA would be approved.

The new poll revealed that voters in other states with Republican governors that rejected expansion, such as Kansas, Florida, and Georgia, also want to expand Medicaid.

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