Another Republican Governor Expands Medicaid
Yesterday, the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, announced that his state had reached an agreement with the federal government to expand Medicaid. This decision will allow hundreds of thousands of people in PA to gain access to health insurance. The Washington Post has the story,
Pennsylvania won federal approval to expand its Medicaid program to nearly 500,000 low-income adults on Thursday, becoming the ninth state led by a Republican governor to join the expansion under the president's health-care law.
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.
The agreement means that Pennsylvania joins 26 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid.
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.
“Like we are doing in Pennsylvania, [the Department of Health and Human Services] and CMS are committed to supporting state flexibility and working with states on innovative solutions that work within the confines of the law to expand Medicaid to low-income individuals," said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement. "But, unfortunately, millions of Americans are still without Medicaid coverage because their state has yet to act."
Corbett, whose reelection campaign is suffering, joins Republican governors like Jan Brewer of Arizona and New Jersey's Chris Christie who oppose the ACA but have taken the law's billions of dollars to expand coverage to its poorest citizens. The federal government will pay the full costs of the expansion population through 2016, and the federal reimbursement will gradually lower to 90 percent in 2020 — still much better than the average 57 percent federal match rate for the traditional program.