Corbett
Corbett

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday became the 10th governor of his party to back Medicaid expansion -- but not without a list of conditions and reforms.

Expanding the health program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act extends health coverage to more Pennsylvania residents. Corbett's expansion plan offers Medicaid to more residents by using private health insurance plans and creating new requirements for all Medicaid enrollees, such as having them pay monthly premiums and prove they are looking for jobs.

Corbett says he won't go forward with an expansion without other reforms, but his announcement comes after his initial February decision to opt out of Medicaid expansion. To go into effect, his plan must both pass the state Legislature and win approval from the federal government.

But in York, that approval is hard to find among political, medical and civil rights leaders.

'Political posturing': Democrat Tom Wolf, the York County businessman seeking the nomination to defeat Corbett in 2014, had some critical remarks to the governor's plan.

"(Monday's) announcement is another Harrisburg game from Governor Corbett that puts political posturing over people and raises more questions than it answers," Wolf said in a statement.

He said that giving private insurance companies a cut of the money and providing fewer benefits to working families at the same cost to the taxpayers "doesn't seem to add up."

"If Governor Corbett truly cared about helping working Pennsylvanians, he would follow New Jersey's example and expand Medicaid coverage without delay," Wolf said. "Doing so would insure half-a-million residents, create good-paying jobs, and pump millions in our state's economy."

'Makes no sense': And Dr. Kenneth Woerthwein agrees.

Woerthwein, a member of the NAACP and National Physicians Alliance, is a retired physician who ran a family practice in York from the mid-1970s to 2009. A proponent of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, he doesn't understand how Corbett's plan will address issues for the poor, he said.

"The thing is, many people in the group are already working," Woerthwein said, whether it be in home nursing care, fast food or retail. "For them, it makes no sense to implement something like that."

It's also illogical for them to pay monthly premiums, he said.

"You barely have enough money to pay for basic necessities," Woerthwein said.

The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to get everyone insured so they can receive preventive health care and, in the long run, be healthier and less likely to die prematurely, he said.

Woerthwein has attended rallies in Harrisburg and facilitated four discussions in the area about the health care law, he said, calling it a civil-rights issue.

And Corbett's current plan is not the answer, he said.

"He's putting so many conditions on it that it's going to make it impractical to implement it," he said.

Shows some promise: But state Rep. Ron Miller, R.-Jacobus, said he has more hope for Corbett's revised plan, although he said he's been traveling and has been unable to fully review the plan.

"It has some promise to it, because it's better than what was out there before," he said. "But I'm still trying to gather all the information and digest it."

For example, Miller said, adding a co-pay for doctor visits could be a wise move, because if all medical services are free, people could take undue advantage of the system.

"(A co-pay) forces people to take a look at what is appropriate," he reasoned.

Miller said he fears the federal government could stop funding the initiative, which would not be unheard of for the feds.

"Then it will be that taxpayers are on the hook to pay the bill," he said. -- The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.