PA awaits answer on "Healthy PA" Medicaid waiver

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Feb 27, 2014 2:05 PM

DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth on Smart Talk

(Harrisburg) -- The head of the state Department of Public Welfare is optimistic the federal government will approve the Commonwealth's recently-submitted Medicaid waiver application.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has already granted similar Medicaid waivers in Iowa, Michigan and Arkansas. But if Pennsylvania's application is approved, it would mark the first time a state has ever tied a work search requirement to its Medicaid program. 

DPW Secretary Bev Mackereth says the program would connect participants with current job openings and employment resources.

"All of the research out there shows that if people are working, their physical health and mental health outcomes are better," she explained on witf's Smart Talk program.

Mackereth says the requirement would only apply to working age adults. Disabled Pennsylvanians, and anyone working more than 20-hours a week, would be exempt.

The so-called "Healthy PA" plan would overhaul the existing Medicaid program while drawing down federal dollars to help create a new "private insurance option" for 500,000 low-income, uninsured Pennsylvanians.

Mackereth says the federal government is advancing the plan into a 30-day public comment period.

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