Who has seen the biggest benefits from Medicaid expansion? Rural counties
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 02.02.17
Photo by PA Internet News Service
Today, Governor Wolf announced that over 700,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in HealthChoices, Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, since expansion occurred two years ago.
(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania about two years ago, and since then, more than 700,000 low-income people have enrolled.
Some of the counties with the biggest increases are rural.
Medicaid enrollment in five rural counties - Armstrong, Bedford, Cameron, Fayette, and Forest - jumped by at least 10 percent in 2015.
Only two other counties had similar results: Delaware and Philadelphia.
That news is just one part of an extensive report from the state about Medicaid expansion.
The report also says Medicaid patients have gotten more than $4.5 billion in health care.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have made it clear they plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which includes Medicaid expansion.
But Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County, a Republican himself, says that would hurt so many people.
"The population that Medicaid expansion covers are people that are making minimum wage, $10, $12, $14 an hour, they're out in the workforce, working full-time, but they have no health care coverage at their place of employment," says DiGirolamo.
"They're someone who is the person who might be serving your food tonight if you go to a restaurant, someone who might cut your hair next time you get a haircut. These are working people. These are people who have gone years and years without health care," says Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas.
Without Medicaid, many people would have to go to an emergency room for care, with taxpayers footing the bill.
The state is paying a portion of the costs of the Medicaid expansion, and the portion will continue to rise until it hits 10 percent in 2020.
It's estimated its share will cost $199 million for next fiscal year.
But the Department of Human Services also says Medicaid expansion allowed it to shift people off coverage that was completely paid for by the state, which was budgeted at at least $620 million annually.