A report from a legislative fiscal office saying that Pennsylvania could save money by expanding Medicaid under Obamacare failed to take numerous factors into account in estimating the costs, acting Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare Beverly Mackereth said.

The report from the Independent Fiscal Office reinvigorated a back-and-forth between Democrats and the Corbett administration over whether the state should expand Medicaid by stating the net savings for the state government in the first year would be $225 million. The administration has resisted the Medicaid expansion, saying the long-term costs to the state would be $4 billion more each year.

In a letter to the IFO, Mackereth wrote that, contrary to estimates in the report, the state government will have to bear upfront costs.

“For example, implementing such a monumental increase in eligibility without having sufficient staff on board (your report indicates a need of 1,396 additional staff) and trained prior to implementation would only result in chaos, a disruption of critical services to vulnerable Pennsylvanians and a potential disallowance of federal funding. [The] DPW estimates that more than 2,000 additional staff will need to be hired and trained in the next seven months, a virtual impossibility,” Mackereth said.

IFO Director Matt Knittel responded with a statement offering to meet with DPW staff to discuss “discrepancies between department and IFO analyses.”

— John L. Kennedy, for the Law Weekly