FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 9, 2015
Governor Wolf fulfills his campaign pledge and launches real Medicaid Expansion, eliminating the worst benefit cuts to low-income Pennsylvanians
Harrisburg, PA – Neal Bisno, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and Chair of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania (an AFSCME-SEIU partnership) issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement by Governor Wolf regarding Healthy PA:
“Governor Wolf’s announcement of the transition toward real Medicaid Expansion by first discontinuing Healthy PA’s low risk healthcare benefit package marks a victory for quality, affordable care that was years in the making.
True to his campaign pledge, Governor Wolf has taken the first steps toward expanding healthcare access for Pennsylvania’s working families and dismantling the cornerstone of Corbett’s unfortunate healthcare legacy – the overly complex, inefficient Healthy PA program that has delayed, and in some cases, denied care to those who need it most.
We applaud today’s announcement and look forward to working with Governor Wolf and Acting Secretary of Human Services Ted Dallas as they implement a smooth and orderly transition to full Medicaid expansion. We also take positive note of Secretary Dallas’ commitment to ensuring that no Pennsylvanian goes without coverage as a result of this much needed policy change.”
The Corbett Administration’s Healthy PA plan has proved costly and inefficient. In November, 1.2 million seniors, people with disabilities and expectant mothers who were already receiving Medicaid benefits received notification of their reassignment to three new benefit packages. Of those, the low-risk or Healthy plan, offered the most significant benefit cuts including new limits on radiology tests, lab work, and doctor visits that could have affected thousands of low-income families across the state.
“By choosing to discontinue Healthy PA’s low risk plan,” Bisno continued, “Governor Wolf has rejected some of the worst Medicaid cuts for thousands of Pennsylvania’s lowest-income citizens which would have only served to reduce access to preventative care and services. Study after study indicates that access to quality, preventative care greatly reduces future healthcare costs while increasing patients’ overall wellness. By working to create a streamlined system that consolidates various benefit packages, the Wolf administration will give consumers a much simpler way to navigate their healthcare options.
Besides expanding access to care to millions of Pennsylvanians, real Medicaid Expansion as intended by the Affordable Care Act will bring significant benefits to our economy. Three different economic impact studies – including one by Pennsylvania’s own Independent Fiscal Office – have found that Medicaid Expansion would help create 34,000 jobs by 2016, save hospitals $520 million over the next decade in uncompensated care costs and free up over $400 million in our state budget each year.
Today’s announcement is a critical first step, and we look forward to collaborating with Wolf Administration officials as they take the additional actions necessary to expand Medicaid and ensure quality, affordable healthcare is accessible to millions of seniors, people with disabilities and low-income Pennsylvanians. We know that Medicaid Expansion is not only the most efficient approach to covering families, it creates a path forward for tens of thousands of new jobs and millions in taxpayer savings. ”