Pennsylvania GOP Governor Agrees to Expand Medicaid with Added Requirements

His proposal would allow new Medicaid recipients to purchase private health insurance, but also would place new requirements on many of the more than one million current adult Medicaid enrollees, including a monthly premium and a job-search mandate.
September 17, 2013
 

Gov. Corbett said Monday that he would accept federal Medicaid funding to insure hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians as part of a broader overhaul of the health-care safety net.

Corbett said his proposal would allow new Medicaid recipients to purchase private health insurance, but also would place new requirements on many of the more than one million current adult Medicaid enrollees, including a monthly premium and a job-search mandate. The plan is aimed at reducing costs and streamlining services while offering greater access to those who need medical care, Corbett said.

"We cannot afford to expand the current Medicaid program. It is an entitlement that is unsustainable," he said at a news conference at Harrisburg Hospital.

"If the goal is to give everybody quality and affordable health care, this is Pennsylvania's way of doing that."

The announcement came after months of discussion between the Corbett administration and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and lobbying in the Capitol by proponents of Medicaid expansion.

Twenty-five states are moving forward with Medicaid expansion, which begins Jan. 1. Corbett, who became the 10th Republican governor to accept Medicaid funding, initially rejected expansion in his February budget address, but later said he was open to the idea if the federal government allowed him the flexibility to design a plan tailored to Pennsylvania's needs.

While Corbett offered a broad outline of what he would like to achieve, largely missing from the announcement were details of how or when the proposal would be rolled out, and whether there was an alternative plan to provide coverage for the uninsured if this proposal failed to win federal approval. The Affordable Care Act expands coverage to individuals and families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to $15,800 for an individual or $32,400 a year for a family of four.

Under the "Healthy PA" plan, "able-bodied" non-elderly people on Medicaid who are unemployed would be required to look for work, and Medicaid recipients - except children, the elderly, the disabled, and the very poor - would have to pay a premium, on a sliding scale, of up to $25 a month.

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