Tom Corbett’s Extremist Plan To Destroy Medicaid In Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett and his ethics really belong down South, but his poor-hating, woman-hating, minority-hating, Confederate values have been strangling Pennsylvania since 2010. The state has the chance this year to correct that disastrous mistake.
“While Medicaid provides critical health care to millions of Pennsylvanians, its continued annual growth places an increased burden on the taxpayers of Pennsylvania and makes it increasingly difficult to fund other critical program areas, such as education.”

If you want to understand how Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s brain works, and I can sympathize with you if that is not one of your goals in life, then consider that the above, deeply divisive statement, comes from his new proposal to “transform” Medicaid. How will this transformation take place? By essentially dismantling Medicaid and replacing it with what is known as the “private option”—meaning a marketplace solution where poor Pennsylvanians will be forced to purchase and pay for private health insurance policies.

What’s wrong with this?

Well, if you’re talking about providing assistance to the poorest people—many of whom are so poor they are not eligible for subsidy assistance under Obamacare’s marketplace provisions—then these GOP requirements, viewed as increasing “personal responsibility” on the part of Pennsylvania's poorest people, are a little strange:
  • WORK REQUIREMENT: basically this is the health care version of the Republican’s hateful mantra “work, or starve” respecting their desire to turn America’s poor into slaves. Corbett’s idea is to divide poor Pennsylvanians from everyone else, and to argue that poor people need to work and to pay for their health insurance, no matter the economic hardship this imposes on them and their families, because otherwise, they will be stealing vital resources from Pennsylvania’s public education system. In other words, in Corbett’s twisted math, if you help a poor, sick, Pennsylvanian, you are at the same time harming a Pennsylvania schoolchild. Pennsylvania is in fact notorious for having gutted its support for education over the years, and this was not caused by the drain upon state resources made by Medicaid recipients. It was part of the nationwide GOP plan to privatize public education, first by starving public schools of support, and then by claiming the under-resourced public schools were doing a lousy job. It's a scam, just like Corbett's health care proposal.
  • COST SHARING: at 100% of the FPL (federal poverty level), Pennsylvania will start charging poor Pennsylvanians what it calls “a nominal payment toward a monthly premium”—or you could just call it a premium payment. This allegedly will encourage poor Pennsylvanians to “make healthier choices”. Of course, they will have less money to make those choices, so since “healthier” in the USA usually costs more, not less, the math on this idea seems designed to punish, not benefit, poor people. According to Corbett’s proposal, in the second year of his scheme, even poor Pennsylvanians, whose income is BELOW 100% of FPL, will be evaluated to see if the state can start charging these poorest residents: increased copayments, “a nominal premium”, and Pennsylvania will start turning away anyone who fails to participate in the state forced-labor program, Encouraging Employment. Let us shorthand this one for everybody…it is the new GOP health care program, WORK OR DIE! 
  • CORBETT’S COERCIONS: Tom Corbett proposes that Pennsylvania force Medicaid recipients into his new private insurance scheme, where, if they should fail to pay copayments on time or fail to pass obligatory health assessments, run by the state of Pennsylvania, the financial demands on future insurance coverage will be increased on the recipients—in other words on the poorest Pennsylvanians—plus their coverage can be revoked entirely!

In order to implement his scheme, Tom Corbett is going to have to break the law all over the place, so he is requesting 24 waivers from obeying federal Medicaid provisions. In these waiver requests, Corbett lists his reasons for asking for the right to ignore the law. Some of these reasons are revealing of Corbett’s, and the GOP’s, thinking regarding the utility of transforming America’s poor people into a slave-labor population.

For example, in explaining the Commonwealth’s request to “deny eligibility for up to nine months to otherwise eligible individuals who fail to meet the requirements of the Encouraging Employment program", Corbett’s proposal says the reason for this is to “instill a sense of personal responsibility into the program.” Seriously—into the program! In fact, the idea of Corbett's proposal is to privatize Medicaid, forcing poor people to absorb an increasing amount of the cost of insurance polices they are forced to purchase.

And if you think encouraging all those poor, lazy, bums to work is not such a bad idea, then consider the Commonwealth also asks for a waiver to deny coverage to poor people who “fail to comply with premium payment requirements”—in other words, Corbett, who is forcing poor people to buy the insurance, will deny them the insurance coverage if being poor poses an obstacle to their affording the new insurance premiums.

Let us understand something: regardless of what you think about Obamacare, and I’m no fan of it, the Medicaid expansion provisions did do things like eliminate work requirements for eligibility, and assume that being poor was in fact a severe limitation to paying insurance premiums and copayments.

But under Tom Corbett’s scheme, being poor is just a sign of being irresponsible, intentionally unhealthy, and basically a drag on his rich pals, who believe in the Christian ethic (which is the antithesis of the ethics actually taught by Jesus Christ): Work or Starve—and oh yeah, Work or NO HEALING FOR YOU!

Finally, reporting on the obvious consensus of analysts regarding health insurance proposals in the ACA, Kaiser Health News said:
“Tom Corbett’s…Medicaid proposal…is…the most extreme state plan to expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”
And one more little tidbit for consideration. Having helped Corbett craft his anti-poor-people Medicaid destruction plan, Todd Shamash is now leaving the Corbett administration to go work as a lawyer-lobbyist for the insurance company, Capital BlueCross.