HARRISBURG - State lawmakers on Monday heard from some of the people who say they have been hurt by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's resistance to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.
Several people told the House Human Services Committee that they would be covered under a Medicaid expansion but have not been able to afford private insurance through the exchanges that were set up under the 2010 law.
"Don't allow Gov. Corbett to stand between hard-working people receiving the health coverage they need," said Keena Hicks, a part-time home health aide from Philadelphia who said her take-home pay is less than $500 every two weeks. "We should not be shut out of the health care system."
The committee's chairman, suburban Philadelphia Republican Gene DiGirolamo, said the hundreds of thousands who would be covered if Corbett expanded Medicaid include a large segment of the working poor. The uninsured group is "heavily tilted toward working women," he said.
"These people are showing up at our hospitals anyway without health insurance," DiGirolamo said. "So we're all sharing in that cost somewhere along the line."
Corbett is waiting to hear back from the federal government on his plan to use Medicaid expansion dollars to provide private insurance coverage for the same group of people. His 124-page plan submitted to federal regulators in February, Healthy PA, also would allow those private insurers to operate without some of Medicaid's coverage rules, including guidelines for when coverage kicks in.
At Monday's legislative hearing, Pittsburgh resident Shelagh Collins said she has struggled to find permanent employment after being laid off in 2007, and it has complicated her efforts to address health problems.
"I'd be doing better financially if I could get my health issues taken care of," she told the committee.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the requirement under the law that states expand Medicaid, and Corbett is among roughly half the nation's governors who have not embraced the expansion.