Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — Regrettably, Governor Tom Corbett has reversed his earlier decision and has announced his acceptance of President Obama’s offer of federal dollars to expand health insurance.
Governor Corbett’s plan will end up forcing middle and higher income Pennsylvanians to cover the health insurance costs of an estimated half million residents who, by the government’s own definition, are not poor.
It is yet another scheme to redistribute wealth and provides a massive subsidy to the health insurance industry.
Under Corbett’s plan, which mirrors the Obamacare guidelines, assistance would be offered to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,856 for a single person and $32,499 for a family of four.
The governor’s plan assumes some citizens have a right to compel their fellow citizens to pay for their health insurance. This flies in the face of America’s founding principles – that we have certain unalienable rights against government coercion of our freedoms. Forcing some citizens to pay insurance premiums for others goes against these freedoms.
Our Republican leaders, however, are ignoring these founding principles. In the case of Ohio’s Republican governor, it appears to be out of a misguided sense of virtue.
"Now, when you die and get to the, get to the, uh, to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not gonna ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor,” Governor John Kasich said recently. "Better have a good answer."
Kasich is obviously confused about his constitutional duty and role as governor and instead thinks he’s the leader of a church or charity.
Corbett’s motivation for creating health insurance subsidies to lower income Pennsylvanians is less clear, considering he is essentially reversing his long opposition to expanding Medicaid. Perhaps by creating these new subsidies, Corbett hopes he will appear more empathic to the poor and the not so poor.
Ultimately we do not know what is motivating our governor. But we can be sure the taxes on middle and higher income Pennsylvanians will increase.
Proponents of Corbett’s plan claim Pennsylvania’s taxpayers don’t have to worry because the federal government is footing the bill. This misses the point that those who pay state taxes pay federal taxes as well and that given the size of the national debt – nearly $17 trillion and growing – expanding entitlement programs such as Medicaid will end up costing all of us more.
Furthermore, the federal government’s "guarantee" to pay 100 percent of the increased costs of any state’s Medicaid expansion under Obamacare – as Corbett is doing – is reduced to 90 percent in three years. Given the massive national debt, it’s likely that federal subsidy will be reduced even more.
Significantly, Obamacare will not cover Pennsylvania’s administrative costs. The costs to run this massive new subsidy are not inconsequential – Corbett himself has estimated the expense of running the expanded Medicaid program as between $200 million to $300 million annually.
Governor Corbett’s new subsidies will also distort the health insurance market and likely lead to higher insurance premiums. With thousands of new customers being given government money to buy coverage, the health insurance companies will simply raise rates to take advantage of the windfall Corbett is providing.
This is the same scenario we already see with higher education – colleges and universities increasing tuition to make the most of government-backed student assistance.
Corbett needs to remain true to his Conservative principles and cancel this massive new subsidy program. Instead, he should propose policies to move us away from a government controlled or subsidized market and return us to a model that works, based on the free market.
Such a plan would see health insurance policies with low premiums to cover catastrophic care and direct pay for routine health care needs. The end result of such a plan would be more money in the pockets of the consumer, health care providers being directly paid for most services and the already bloated health insurance companies becoming a bit less wealthy.
We once had a health insurance system that followed these guidelines and it made our care the best and most affordable in the world.
Marc A. Scaringi is a Harrisburg attorney and former candidate for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2012
Scaringi & Scaringi PC | 2000 Linglestown Road | Suite 106 | Harrisburg | PA | 17110