State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Administration submits alternative to Medicaid expansion plan

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 19, 2014 5:09 PM
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Gov. Corbett's administration is making its formal ask of the federal government to implement an alternative to Medicaid expansion. The plan would use billions of federal dollars to subsidize private health care insurance for more than 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians.

The proposal submitted to the federal government includes the two most controversial items: premiums for coverage and a work-search requirement.

The premiums would not be in place for the first year of the program. The work-search requirement has a more complicated implementation.

"We believe that encouraging employment ties in very strongly to good health outcomes," said Bev Mackereth, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. "When we truly believe that that's the right thing, we're going to ask the federal government, 'Is there a way that we can make this work?'"

According to the administration's waiver, eligible participants would have to be registered on a state website (to do things like look for a job or get job training) in the first year of the program. Any penalties for not doing so would kick in during the program's second year.

The waiver was submitted Wednesday to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The federal government has about a month and a half to review the plan and take public comments on it before negotiating details of the plan with state officials. Mackereth said the administration is asking for "timely" review. A small piece of the governor's proposed budget ($125 million) for the next fiscal year depends on federal approval of his administration's proposed health care changes.

This entry has been updated since its original posting to reflect the federal government's 15-day review period of the plan.

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