News

Corbett administration says Healthy PA will go forward as planned

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 18, 2014 3:57 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- The Corbett administration says it hasn't considered how to dismantle a program known as Healthy Pennsylvania that will provide health insurance for up to 600,000 people.

The comments come after Governor-elect Wolf’s transition team indicated it plans to scrap Corbett’s Healthy Pennsylvania plan and instead expand Medicaid outright.

The incoming Wolf administration is already talking with the federal government about transitioning away from the Health Pennsylvania initiative.

But enrollment for the Corbett Administration's initiative starts December first, with full coverage taking effect a month later.

Administration Policy Director Jennifer Branstetter says year-long contracts with private insurance companies already are in place and they don't have early termination clauses. A Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman later corrected Branstetter, noting the contracts are actually three years long, with options to negotiate each year.

Branstetter says there isn't even an estimate available on how long breaking up Healthy PA would take.

"We have had our vendors focused on one thing and that is open enrollment on December 1st and health care coverage on January 1st. We have not asked our vendors to stop what they're doing in order to figure out what, speculatively, it would look like to unwind this."

"That would be a conversation for the next administration to have," she says.

As for how difficult it might be to end one of those contracts?

"I would assume not very easy. But it's a typical contract. We do one-year contracts all the time, we do them in health choices, we're doing them in Healthy PA. But there's no clause written into the contract saying governor changes? No," says Branstetter.

The state Department of Public Welfare is starting a public information campaign to promote Healthy Pennsylvania, which will cost about $2.2 million. It will include radio and TV advertisements, promotional partnerships, and minority outreach.

DPW also says it will hire 480 new staff to help implement Healthy PA, costing $13.2 million.

State Department of Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth says she's confident call centers and the new website will be able to handle the rush of people during the first days of enrollment.

The agency says it's already seen a bump in web traffic compared to past weeks.

The administration also announced it will not end the SelectPlan for Women December 31st. Instead, a waiver will extend the program, which includes birth control, routine checkups, and emergency contraception, to June 30, 2015. About 78,000 low-income women currently receive the coverage.

To learn more about enrolling in health insurance -- check out WITF's Getting Covered interactive tool.

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Comments: 4

  • jjones img 2014-11-18 12:35

    So how much is Mr. Corbet's plan going to cost Pennsylvania? Was/is he so arrogant to have believed he would have no trouble winning a second term that he set us up with a program that cannot be dropped in favor of working with the federal government and the Affordable Care Act? Or is he simply that angry? Surely the vendors are flexible and competent enough to work with either program, no? Why not just be able to roll the folks who sign up for Healthy Pennsylvania over to the other?

  • longtime_observer img 2014-11-18 15:57

    This was all about shoveling tax money to Corbett's friends in the private sector for a stupid contract that should never have been bid and awarded in the first place.

  • Larry img 2014-11-18 20:42

    One angry MF

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