Gov. Corbett is perfectly okay with throwing sick people off Medicaid, but can’t bring himself to tax Marcellus Shale drillers. This is your sociopathic Republican party at work:
Since August, the Corbett administration has cut off more than 150,000 people – including 43,000 children – from medical assistance in a drive to save costs. That purge far exceeds what any other state has tried, health policy experts say, and officials may be walking a fine line between rooting out waste and erecting barriers to care for the poor and disabled.
When most states were experiencing flat or rising Medicaid enrollment from the economic downturn, stepped-up eligibility reviews in Pennsylvania began producing a decline over the summer. The pace of cuts picked up in November, with 90,000 cases, or 4 percent, dropped in a single month. In New Jersey, enrollment increased by 391 the same month.
The Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg says most of the people cut were dead, had moved out of state, or were found to be ineligible, but it could provide no breakdown. Advocacy groups, clients, and representatives for caseworkers paint a different picture. Pressure to quickly review a backlog of files and close cases overwhelmed the system, they say, as reams of paperwork were lost and computer programs automatically ended benefits when patients’ responses had not been entered by preset deadlines.
The Pennsylvania experience, while extreme, illustrates the difficulty of reining in increases in health-care costs nationwide. For the short term, the cost of providing public insurance ballooned as people lost their jobs and employer-provided benefits, while states’ belt-tightening reduced the workforce that processes applications.
Marie Stopa of Holmesburg received a letter Sept. 15 saying her four children would be cut off Sept. 19 if renewal paperwork was not received. She says she sent it the next day, but benefits were cut off anyway. Her 10-year-old son, Marek, has landed in emergency rooms twice since then for asthma attacks Stopa believes would have been avoided had he remained on the preventive medication she can no longer afford.