What happened to compassionate conservatism in Pennsylvania?
While seven Republican governors have accepted federal money to expand access to affordable health care - including Gov. Christie of New Jersey - our very own Gov. Corbett is digging in his heels. The Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") sets aside $43 billion for Pennsylvania to expand coverage through Medicaid.
The first three years would be covered 100 percent by the federal government, with subsequent years covered at 90 percent.
But Corbett has so far rejected the deal. The partnership between the federal government and Pennsylvania would cover 700,000 people who currently do not earn insurance through their job, or cannot afford rates found in the private marketplace, according to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
What is Corbett's issue with the law?
The landmark legislation was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who joined in Corbett's unsuccessful lawsuit to block Obamacare, became the latest to change his mind. Scott told CNN, "While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care."
Before health care reform, millions of working Americans lacked insurance. These are some of the people who ring up your groceries at the store, take care of your children at daycare, and drive taxis in the city. But without insurance, these folks delay seeking treatment - thus increasing overall costs through emergency room care and lowered productivity. They also die sooner.
Maybe Corbett could take a cue from Gov. Christie. The New Jersey rising star enjoys approval ratings over 70 percent. Meanwhile, a Franklin & Marshall poll this month pegs Corbett's approval ratings at 26 percent.
Christie rejects the "crazies" and the anti-government, tea party fringe. On the other hand, Corbett is beholden to the corporate interests that propelled him to office. In the case of expanding access to health care, he is placing neo-conservative interests and his Grover Norquist pledge over the public interests.
As the national Republican Party seeks new footing after their 2012 losses, they need to be reminded of a simple truth. Working-class people will start voting for them again only if they start doing something for us.