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Corbett pitches Medicaid plan; requires federal approval

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Gov. Tom Corbett (R) announced his plans to reform Medicaid in Pennsylvania, calling them “common sense” and asking the federal government to approve them.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, frequently referred to as “Obamacare,” states have the option to accept billions of federal dollars to expand their Medicaid rolls. In Pennsylvania, the expansion would result in about 500,000 people being added to Medicaid, including people whose income is up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.

The federal government covers 100 percent of the cost initially. That drops to 90 percent over six years.

“We cannot afford to expand the current Medicaid program. It is an entitlement that is unsustainable. Moving from one in six Pennsylvanians on Medicaid to one in four because of a mandate from Washington is not acceptable,” said Corbett.

So, the governor is pitching his own plan, “Healthy Pennsylvania.”

Under the plan, people would use the promised federal money to buy private insurance on the new federal health insurance exchange.

People who are able to work would be required to utilize the commonwealth’s job gateway program, which connects people to jobs and job training programs.

It also would eliminate co-pays but institute a sliding scale monthly premium from $0 to $25 per month for an individual.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable, the reforms that we believe that we need, we have to make the program sustainable,” said Corbett.

The unique approach requires federal approval. Corbett declined to say what plan there is, if any, if the plan is not approved.

Some aspects of it, such as budget re-allocations, would be taken up by Pennsylvania lawmakers.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) says what concerns him is that 25 other states already have moved to expand Medicaid under the outline created by the Obama administration.

“We know an easier way to get there is by what the federal government has already approved and other states will be implementing January 1. But, here we are September 16 with a concept,” said Teplitz.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) will hold a news conference Tuesday to highlight what he calls the “destructive impacts” of Corbett’s plan.