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Frankel Urges State To Adopt Medicaid Expansion

Healthcare advocates, along with State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny), unveiled an online ticker today, which tracks the amount of money they claim Pennsylvania is losing by rejecting Medicaid expansion.

As of today, the state has missed out on more than $640 million since the start of 2014, according to the ticker.

“It’s hard to turn your back against this when it addresses so many important issues facing the state at this time,” Frankel said.

Adopting Medicaid expansion could create as many as 40,000 jobs in the health industry and help solve the state’s budget deficit, according to Frankel.

As of March 26, Pennsylvania is one of 24 states that has not implemented the expansion. Instead, Gov. Tom Corbett in September introduced his “Healthy PA” plan, which would allow the state to accept Medicaid dollars, but use them to subsidize private health plans for the more than 520,000 low-income Pennsylvanians.

The only problem is, Frankel doesn’t think the federal government will approve the proposal.

“Our taxpayers…should understand that they were subsidizing Medicaid expansion in other states without having it done here,” he said. “So they’re paying for other states to get this done without taking advantage of what is a very good deal for Pennsylvania.”

If the state adopts Medicaid expansion, Corbett believes Pennsylvania would be stuck picking up the costs once the federal government starts to cut back on the subsidies, but Frankel said that’s not true.

“The state can opt out at any time,” he said, “but the fact of the matter is for the first three years that we’re in here, it doesn’t cost the state a dime. Then, after three years, the federal government will pay 95 percent of the costs and at the end of 2020 the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost.”

In March of 2013, Frankel introduced legislation urging the state to adopt the Medicaid expansion portion of the Affordable Care Act. It is currently sitting in committee.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."