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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Pa. Governor Pushes Plan to Expand Medicaid His Way

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"The governor is looking for a way to draw down the federal money,” says Nicole Huberfeld, a professor of health law at the University of Kentucky. She’s not surprised by Corbett’s latest move – she believes the federal money can be too much of an opportunity for Democrat icOR Republican Governors to pass up: “The legislature may or may not be on board, but the governor recognizes a lot of federal money to be had that will likely save the state a lot of money in the long run."

When the Supreme Court gave the states the option last year to expand Medicaid, many Republicans didn’t have an appetite to do it, no matter who paid the bill, according to Matt Baker, a Republican lawmaker in Pennyslvania who chairs the state’s house health committee. "The Democrats in Harrisburg by-and-large support a full blown Medicaid expansion. The Republicans do not. And we’re very, very concerned about the cost."

But Baker doesn’t view Corbett’s plan as an expansion because of the shared responsibility element and proposed changes to current Medicaid. He’s not in full support until he gets more details, but the plan doesn’t appear to be facing severe political backlash. After all, conversations about Medicaid had been began seeping into the political discourse months earlier, when neighboring Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., opted for an expansion.

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader, Republican Dominic Pileggi, said "It would be foolish to leave people uninsured" which would leave hospitals and doctors providing free care to “uninsured individuals while money we send to Washington goes to other states to deal with their issues."

Democratic leaders worry Corbett’s moving too slowly and say they, too, want more details.

But at least some advocates for a full expansion are cautiously optimistic, including Michael Race of Pennsylvania’s Partnership for Children. While he “would have preferred to see Medicaid expansion put on the table,” and says he was hopeful early on a plan would surface.

The whole plan isn’t a done deal, but Huberfeld, with the University of Kentucky, says one thing is clear: Federal officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have signaled from the outset that they’re willing to work with states to give them maximum flexibility to expand Medicaid under their own terms.

Fri, Oct 25 2013

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