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Pennsylvanians denied Obamacare due to Medicaid issue - abc27 WHTM

Pennsylvanians denied Obamacare due to Medicaid issue

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Questions continue to pour in about the Affordable Care Act this week, including why many Pennsylvanians are being denied coverage altogether.

It comes down to expanding Medicaid, which Governor Tom Corbett chose not to do. Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said between 500,000 and 600,000 working Pennsylvanians are now being left in a healthcare hole.

"It's absolutely unconscionable that we're not taking advantage of this," he said.

Frankel is talking about $3 billion in federal dollars that would have poured into the state to fully fund medicaid for the next three years. After that, the federal government would pick up 90 percent of the tab. But over the summer, Corbett turned down the offer.

"We are not expanding traditional Medicaid," Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth said. "We are reforming our traditional Medicaid structure, which is extremely costly in Pennsylvania."

Medicaid currently costs the state $22 billion per year, Mackereth said. In addition, one in six Pennsylvanians are on Medicaid and according to her, that's too many.

Mackereth said the state is now developing its own way to get working people insured.

"We're meeting with the federal government," she said. "We've been in negotiations with them and we're really moving very quickly to the private option."

Frankel said Corbett's solution could take upwards of a year, and comes with too many conditions.

"We are holding Pennsylvanians hostage who don't have healthcare, who face critical questions about how they take care of their loved ones, who face bankruptcy because they can't get this healthcare," he said. "We could do it today."

Frankel said those who cannot obtain insurance through the current exchange will be forced to resort to going without, which will result in more costly visits to the emergency room.

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