Pennsylvania's Corbett becomes 9th GOP governor to expand Medicaid

Gov. Tom Corbett reached a deal with the Obama administration to use federal funds to put about 500,000 low-income residents into managed care plans already used by the state. There were conflicting reports about the details of the federal waiver, but Corbett's original plan to include work incentives was not approved.

The New York Times: Pennsylvania To Purchase Private Care For Its Poor
Pennsylvania will become the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced Thursday, using federal funds to buy private health insurance for about 500,000 low-income residents starting next year. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, had proposed the plan as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the health care law, which he opposes. Now that federal officials have signed off, Pennsylvania will join Arkansas and Iowa in using Medicaid funds to buy private coverage for the poor (Goodnough, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration, Pennsylvania Governor Reach Deal To Expand Medicaid
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett reached a deal with the Obama administration to extend the state's Medicaid program to half a million low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, officials said Thursday. Pennsylvania is now the 27th state to agree to broaden Medicaid to include everyone earning up to a third more than the federal poverty level, or around $16,000 for a single adult. The agreement makes Mr. Corbett, a Republican, the ninth GOP governor to go along with a central part of the 2010 health-care law (Radnofsky, 8/28).

The Washington Post: Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Expands Medicaid
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett had sought the Obama administration's permission to use money authorized by the Affordable Care Act to purchase private health insurance for poor adults. With Thursday's announcement, Corbett and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instead agreed to a plan to expand the program through managed care organizations. ... Medicaid coverage for Pennsylvania adults earning below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,500, will begin in January. Starting in 2016, adults earning above the federal poverty line will have to pay premiums worth no more than 2 percent of household income. Those adults can be dropped from the program for failing to pay premiums, but they can also receive discounts for healthy behaviors, like going for a check-up (Millman, 8/28).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Feds Approve Corbett's Pa. Medicaid Expansion Proposal
In what was described as a five-year demonstration project, Pennsylvania got the go-ahead to use federal money to pay private insurers to provide health care to uninsured individuals -- many in low-wage jobs. ... But whether the Healthy PA program will roll out Jan. 1 as scheduled could depend on voters. Polls show Corbett facing a double-digit deficit in his bid for reelection. His Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, has said he supports the traditional Medicaid expansion that 26 states and the District of Columbia have already approved (Worden, 8/28).

Reuters: US Officials Reach Deal With Pennsylvania On Medicaid
Federal officials have reached an agreement with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett over his plan to use federal funds to pay for private health insurance coverage for up to 600,000 residents, the governor said on Thursday. The deal highlights a growing number of Republican governors who are finding ways to accept money under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, despite political opposition that has so far prevented nearly half of U.S. states from moving forward with the Medicaid expansion plan (Russ and Morgan, 8/28).

Vox: Pennsylvania Is Expanding Medicaid. Here's How.
Pennsylvania's expansion doesn't look terribly different from their standard Medicaid program. The state is not pursuing the "private option" model being implemented in Arkansas; beneficiaries will get Medicaid coverage, not a marketplace plan. Unlike Arkansas, Pennsylvania already relies on managed care, meaning the state uses private intermediaries to run its Medicaid program. There's already overlap in the insurers participating in Medicaid and the state marketplace (McIntyre, 8/28).

Meanwhile, Tennessee's GOP governor says he will soon make a Medicaid expansion proposal, while South Carolina groups organize low-income groups to vote -

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Gov. Haslam Says Medicaid Expansion Proposal Going To Feds Soon
A long-expected plan for a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee could be placed before federal officials soon, Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday. If the feds approve, an estimated 180,000 low-income state residents could be eligible for subsidized health insurance. "I think we'll probably go to them sometime this fall with a plan … that we think makes sense for Tennessee," the Republican told reporters in response to questions (Sher, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Advocates Urge Governor To Expand Medicaid
The state chapter of the NAACP and other advocates for health care on Thursday urged Gov. Bill Haslam to expand Medicaid in Tennessee, and the Republican governor says he's considering a plan. About 50 protesters gathered on the War Memorial Plaza across the street from the state Capitol (8/28).

The [South Carolina] State: Medicaid Expansion Effort Focuses Appeal On Low-Income Voters
The South Carolina Progressive Network plans to focus its get-out-the-vote efforts this year on the 176,530 people who didn't get health care coverage because the state's political leaders turned down federal Medicaid expansion. Using voter registration information and census data, the network came up with estimates on the number of registered voters in each county denied government-provided health care because the state turned down Medicaid expansion (Holleman, 8/28).

A Missouri program to expand Medicaid for pregnant women takes effect, but without sufficient funding -

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Program To Boost Insurance For Pregnant Women Takes Effect, But Lacks Funding
A Missouri program to expand Medicaid to more pregnant women officially took effect Thursday, but in the absence of state funding, it could be months before people can take advantage of the health plan. The Show-Me Healthy Babies program was passed by the Legislature this year and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon in July. It is designed to provide insurance for pregnant women who earn too much to currently qualify for Medicaid, but not enough for a private health plan (Shapiro, 8/29).

And Fox News reports on safety net benefits -

Fox News: Census Figures Show More Than One-Third Of Americans Receiving Welfare Benefits
Fifty years after the "war on poverty" was first waged, there are signs a new offensive is needed. Newly released Census data reveals nearly 110 million Americans – more than one-third of the country – are receiving government assistance of some kind. The number counts people receiving what are known as "means-tested" federal benefits, or subsidies based on income. This includes welfare programs ranging from food stamps to subsidized housing to the program most commonly referred to as "welfare," Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. At the end of 2012, according to the stats, 51.5 million were on food stamps, while 83 million were collecting Medicaid – with some benefitting from multiple programs (Emanuel, 8/29).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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