Wolf expands Medicaid, will transition away from Healthy PA

Written by Ben Allen and the Associated Press | Feb 9, 2015 2:19 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf says he will expand the state's Medicaid program outright.

The Wolf administration says the decision will not affect any coverage immediately, but ultimately could impact as many as 600,000 people.

The announcement is a boost to healthcare advocates statewide, and it's the start of Wolf fulfilling one of his main campaign promises.

"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," he says.

Those who have enrolled in coverage through Governor Corbett's Healthy Pennsylvania will be transitioned to a single plan, but the timeline isn't known.

The federal government will cover the cost of Medicaid expansion through 2016, then gradually step down its contribution.

The Wolf administration also says it is withdrawing a Corbett request for approval to create a low-risk benefits package for healthier adults.

The federal government had yet to approve Corbett's request to create the low-risk package, and no one had been placed into it yet.

Advocates for the poor had criticized its limits on services and said the process for deciding who should get the low-risk package or a more generous high-risk package was complicated and confusing.

The Corbett administration had rebuffed then Governor-elect Wolf's request to start the full Medicaid expansion before he was sworn into office.

Officials at the Department of Human Services raised questions about how outright expansion would be possible when it had signed three-year-long contracts with private insurance companies to provide coverage through Healthy Pennsylvania.

Medicaid expansion keys:

  • Covers those who make up to 138% of the federal poverty line.
  • No coverage will be immediately impacted by the decision.
  • Benefit plans going from three to one, known as HealthChoices.
  • No more "health screening" tool used for those enrolling in Healthy Pennsylvania.
  • The option to enroll in the private coverage option will end in the spring.
  • Those getting private health care through Healthy PA will be transitioned to the HealthChoices plan by the fall.
  • Fed contribution to Pa. Medicaid expansion:

100% - 2015 & 2016
95% - 2017
94% - 2018
93% - 2019
90% - 2020 and beyond

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