Half a million Pennsylvanians to gain healthcare coverage

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Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have a promise of healthcare coverage now through Governor Tom Corbett’s Healthy Pennsylvania Plan. The federal government signed off on the plan after months of negotiations.

The plan will affect primarily low-income, working adults, and come January 1st those who enroll will finally have coverage.

“I’m very pleased to report that our Healthy Pennsylvania plan to reform medicaid and to increase access to quality affordable healthcare, has been approved by the federal government,” says Governor Tom Corbett in the announcement.

More than 600,000 people will be able to get the federally funded insurance. Corbett’s plan takes money meant to expand Medicaid in PA and instead lets people buy private insurance.

“We had no choice in Pennsylvania,” says Secretary of Public Welfare Bev Mackereth. “We had a very, very bloated and expanded system of care anyway, so we really needed to take that and really take a look at it.”

Mackereth says the plan will save the state billions of dollars through Medicaid reforms. The system is simplified from 14 plans to just two: low-risk and high-risk.

Governor Corbett made some concessions in this final agreement, dropping some of his proposed Medicaid reforms, like one requiring people to look for work. Conservative think tank, the Commonwealth Foundation, says the Governor gave up too much.

“Ultimately the negotiations weren’t fruitful enough in our view for Pennsylvania to push forward with this expansion,” says James Paul of the Commonwealth Foundation. “The mandates and the regulations from the federal government are too severe.”

But the half a million people now eligible for the Healthy PA Plan spent months stuck in a coverage gap: they didn’t qualify for Medicaid, but they also didn’t qualify for subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. Critics say they had to wait too long for this day.

“For Governor Corbett to waste all this time, in order to be able to come out with a political sound bite, is wrong,” says Ken Lee, chairman of the Cumberland County Democratic Party. “It hurt a lot of people.”

Enrollment starts December 1st. To find out how you can enroll, visit http://healthypa.com/.