DPW wraps up seventh and final PA Medicaid hearing

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jan 10, 2014 4:00 AM

The view from inside the State Museum of Pennsylvania auditorium

(Harrisburg) -- The state Department of Public Welfare has concluded a series of public hearings on its proposal to overhaul the commonwealth's Medicaid program, which would include a new private insurance option for Pennsylvanians making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.

The so-called "Healthy PA" plan would use federal dollars to extend a private insurance option to roughly half-a-million low-income, uninsured Pennsylvania adults -- the same population that would be eligible under the Medicaid expansion envisioned in the federal Affordable Care Act.

DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth says the public comments collected during the seven statewide hearings on the plan will be used to make changes to the Medicaid waiver.

"We're not going to be able to do everything. Some of it is cost prohibitive, we can't," she explains. "Other things, we can do, and those things that we can, we want to be able to do."

Mackereth, a former state Representative from York County, doesn't have a timetable moving forward, but says her agency will move quickly to submit the plan to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

"I believe that the federal government wants what we want in Pennsylvania, which is to ensure that 500,000-plus individuals get health insurance," she says of the prospects for approval.

A proposed new work search requirement for adults in the Medicaid program was roundly criticized at the Harrisburg hearing. But Mackereth doesn't view the change as a barrier to coverage. She says it will provide the tools to help eligible recipients become gainfully employed.

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