Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Scraps GOP Predecessor's Medicaid Plan

by | February 10, 2015

By Amy Worden

Gov. Wolf on Monday said he is dismantling his predecessor's alternative to Medicaid expansion and will move forward with the transition to traditional Medicaid insurance coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians.

"Today is the first step toward simplifying a complicated process and ensuring hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have greater access to the health insurance they need," said Wolf. "Our approach will alleviate confusion, remove unnecessary red tape, and streamline the system so that people can see a doctor when they are sick and health care professionals have more time to concentrate on providing quality care."

As a first step, Wolf directed the Department of Human Services (DHS) to submit a letter to the federal government withdrawing the "low-risk" health care package known as the "Healthy" option.

In 2013 then Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, proposed "Healthy PA" as an alternative to Medicaid expansion. using federal dollars to provide private health insurance.

After receiving waivers from the Obama administration, the Healthy PA program began on Jan. 1.

But a backlog of new applicants caused general confusion and glitches in moving existing Medicaid recipients into new health plans resulted in individuals not receiving vital treatment and special populations placed in the wrong plans, which jeopardized coverage.

Among the problems identified was shifting those receiving treatment for drugs and alcohol into the private coverage option (PCO) rather than the appropriate plan due to a glitch in the system.

Because most private plans do not cover addiction and mental health treatment, thousands of people did not receive their care.

Wolf said until the process is complete the state will continue to provide individuals with appropriate health care coverage and no coverage will be immediately afftected by the decision.

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