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Toohil Takes Part in House Health Committee Hearing that Raises Concern about Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania
6/21/2013

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), as a member of the House Health Committee, took part in a public hearing conducted by the committee Thursday at the state Capitol on the issue of Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania. The panel heard from a variety of witnesses, including physicians; government and health care policy groups; nonprofit organizations; and federal and state lawmakers.

“The hearing was extremely informative about the potential impact of Medicaid expansion in the Commonwealth,” said Toohil. “It is clear to me from the testimony that the current system is broken and not delivering the quality health care services its patients deserve.”

Medicaid in Pennsylvania currently requires 27 percent of the entire General Fund budget to cover the one in six people already enrolled under the existing system. Expansion of the program is estimated to raise the number of enrollees to one in four, or 25 percent of the population, which would have a significant impact on state taxpayers and health care services.

The majority of the presenters testified that the current Medicaid system is not working and expanding it would be a bad idea.

“Medicaid is a failed system that needs to be reformed, not expanded,” said Dr. Lynn Jensen of Docs 4 Patient Care. “It assures neither access to health care nor quality of health care. Medicaid patients will always be treated as medical second-class citizens until they enter the same, or similar, insurance markets as those with private insurance.”

“If it chooses to expand Medicaid, the state of Pennsylvania would be choosing to take on a substantial financial burden for a program that produces very poor health care outcomes,” said John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute. “Declining to expand an already financially stretched and struggling Medicaid system is far more responsible than expanding it based on insufficient information and promises from the federal government.”

Congress has been exploring the current state of Medicaid and the effects of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA16) is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which has conducted hearings on the issue.

Pitts advised members of the House Health Committee that the decision to expand Medicaid should be based on what is best for Pennsylvania.

“Do not let the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington manipulate you or tell you what to do,” said Pitts. “You don’t have to do anything at all. If, at the end of the day, you decide to do something – you should insist on maximum flexibility to improve care for our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians and reduce costs for all taxpayers. I urge you to take your time. Decide carefully. There is no rush. And please consider the long-term picture.”

Because of the many questions and concerns regarding the possible expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford), chairman of the House Health Committee, plans to introduce legislation that would call for the creation of a Health Insurance Exchange Task Force. House Bill 1544 would charge the task force with reviewing the numerous studies that have been undertaken on the impact of the ACA and prepare a report for the House of Representatives with recommendations on the best way to proceed.

For more information on Toohil and her legislative priorities, visit www.RepToohil.com or www.Facebook.com/RepToohil.


Representative Tarah Toohil

116th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office
717.260.6136
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