But that estimate also includes costs that would be incurred anyway beginning next year because of the insurance exchange, regardless of whether Corbett embraces the Medicaid expansion.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured projects a cost of $2.8 billion under just the Medicaid expansion for Pennsylvania over 10 years. Neither tally includes the full scope of what Democratic lawmakers say would be $670 million a year in state savings on current costs and increased tax collections that make the expansion a net tax benefit to Pennsylvania.
The Kaiser Commission estimates that 542,000 Pennsylvanians, primarily low-income working adults, would get insurance coverage under the Medicaid expansion. It estimates that another 178,000 who are already eligible for Medicaid would wind up getting coverage through the insurance exchanges.
One way Corbett's administration would want to control costs under an expansion is to have the ability to shape benefits for different classes of enrollees, rather than being forced to provide the same benefits package to everyone who is newly eligible under the Medicaid expansion. Federal officials say they are making that option available to states.
Corbett administration officials say Pennsylvania has one of the better Medicaid benefits packages in the nation. A comparison by the Washington, D.C.-based Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission showed that Pennsylvania was in the top dozen states in 2009 in terms of spending per Medicaid enrollee.