After years of unnecessary delays by Corbett Administration, Federal approval marks first step toward coverage for many uninsured Pennsylvanians
Harrisburg, PA – In response to the the announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that they are expanding coverage for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians while denying the Corbett Administration’s ability to impose punitive lock-out periods and work search requirements, Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, issued the following statement:
“After years of unnecessary delay by the Corbett Administration, The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services heeded the concerns of thousands of Pennsylvanians who said the Healthy PA plan’s coverage delays and access barriers were harmful and unnecessary. While this opens the door to expanding coverage to uninsured working Pennsylvanians, the governor’s refusing to expand Medicaid has denied healthcare to hundreds of thousands people for a year, cost taxpayers $522 million in budget savings in 2014, and delayed the creation of over 40,000 new jobs.
“As a healthcare worker who has been uninsured for three years and has fought through my union to get the Corbett Administration to expand Medicaid,” said Angela Williams, a home care worker from Philadelphia, “this announcement means I am finally on my way to seeing my doctor regularly and getting care I need. It’s wrong that Governor Corbett delayed acting for years and then tried to cut benefits for those in need. We need a governor who is really committed to ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for everyone in our state – that’s why I will be working hard to elect Tom Wolf in November.”
CMS’s announcement gave Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare approval to move forward with the Healthy PA plan, which would offer coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians through a new commercial benefit plan, the Healthy PA Private Coverage Option (PCO). Although today’s announcement creates a pathway for coverage, Corbett’s Healthy PA plan still contains troubling provisions that could restrict access to healthcare coverage including:
- Increased Cost-Sharing: The agreement allows Pennsylvania to impose the highest Medicaid premiums of any state in the country beginning in 2016 which could lead to a loss of coverage for low-income individuals;
- Creation of a New Medicaid Managed Care System – Healthy PA will create a new managed care system, separate from the existing Medicaid system. This could create bureaucratic hurdles that could lead to loss of care;
- Medicaid Benefit Cuts Remain on the Table – Although CMS has not permitted Medicaid cuts in the waiver, potential cuts to the Medicaid program could be pursued through a state amendment plan.
“As an individual living with disabilities, the Medicaid program provides me with affordable medical benefits like a wheelchair and attendant care that gives me the opportunity to live an independent life,” said Germán Parodi, Chair of the Consumer Workforce Council. “I’m concerned that the Healthy PA plan continues to leave the door open for potential cuts that could put the independence and freedom of people with disabilities at risk.”
“It’s outrageous that it took years of independent studies, bipartisan legislative pressure, and, most of all, grassroots activism to get Corbett to reverse course and finally come up with a plan to accept Federal fund to expand healthcare coverage, “ continued Bisno. “While we are pleased that the Federal government has rejected some of the worst aspects Corbett’s proposal, the real solution for Pennsylvania’s uninsured residents, taxpayers, and community hospitals is to elect a governor who is truly committed to putting Pennsylvania’s working families first – Tom Wolf.”