Governor Wolf Highlights Importance of Medicaid in Letter to U.S Senate Finance Committee

February 16, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf responded to a request from democratic members of the United States Senate Finance Committee with feedback regarding proposals to restructure Medicaid at the federal level. In his response, Governor Wolf highlighted the importance of maintaining quality affordable healthcare for the 2.8 million Pennsylvanians who are currently enrolled in Medicaid and stressed the importance of continuing to treat the 124,000 people who accessed substance use treatment as a result of Medicaid expansion.

To read his full letter, click here.

“One of my first decisions as Governor was to expand Medicaid. Since that decision was made in February 2015, more than 700,000 individuals have enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program,” said Governor Wolf. “That’s 700,000 Pennsylvanians who previously did not have access to quality care, if they had access to care at all. Total Medicaid program enrollment now tops 2.8 million Pennsylvanians. U.S. Census data shows that the commonwealth’s uninsured rate has dropped from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 6.4 percent in 2015, and state General Fund costs have been reduced by more than $500 million as a result of Medicaid expansion.”

Governor Wolf also stressed the role that Medicaid plays in addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania cannot be understated.

“More than 3,500 Pennsylvanians died from heroin and opioid-related overdoses in 2015 and that number is expected to rise again for 2016,” said Governor Wolf. “However, in the first year of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion, almost 63,000 newly eligible Medicaid enrollees accessed drug and alcohol treatment. By the beginning of 2017, that number was closer to 124,000 people. Demands on the treatment system are growing by the day in Pennsylvania but Medicaid expansion has opened the door to treatment that otherwise would not be available, much less affordable, to those without insurance.”

Any rollback of Medicaid could also be fiscally devastating to the commonwealth or force us into rationing care for Pennsylvanians.

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services estimates that if Medicaid expansion was rolled back, the cost to the commonwealth of continuing to cover the more than 700,000 Pennsylvanians who have benefited from this initiative is somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.6 billion per year. Pennsylvania is facing a $3 billion structural deficit, which does not factor in potential shifts or reductions in federal funding for health care. A move to end federal cost sharing relative to Medicaid expansion could quite literally devastate our state from a financial perspective or force us to make impossible decisions about which Pennsylvanians are entitled to quality health care.”

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