HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday that he will not pursue an expansion of Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, at least for now, echoing the longstanding complaints of other Republican governors about the cost, inflexibility and inefficiency of Medicaid.
Corbett has not made a specific request from the federal Department of Health and Human Services for the kind of flexibility he wants, and his administration characterized a Tuesday letter to the agency's secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, as a starting point.
Corbett made his announcement as part of the budget plan he rolled out for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and sent the letter simultaneously.
In the letter, Corbett cites the potential cost, saying it would require a large tax increase on Pennsylvanians, and objects to what he called Medicaid's one-size-fits-all mandates that do not promote consumer choice in health care and personal responsibility.
"At this time, and without serious reforms, it would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion," he wrote.
A Health and Human Services Department spokesman on Tuesday evening would only say that agency officials were reviewing the letter.
The Corbett administration anticipates that more than 800,000 Pennsylvanians would join Medicaid rolls beginning in 2014 by expanding Medicaid, the federal-state medical program for the poor and disabled that already provides care for one of every six residents in the state.
Top Republicans in the Legislature said they backed Corbett's decision, citing his complaints that he has been unable to get answers from the Department of Health and Human Services on crucial questions, such as whether some children who are covered under the so-called CHIP program must move to Medicaid.