Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Antoinette Kraus

POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Antoinette Kraus

With the federal public comment period ending this week on the Corbett Administration's Healthy PA proposal, Pennsylvanians delivered a loud and clear message to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Healthy PA is overly complex, overly complicated and unnecessary.  The best choice for Pennsylvania taxpayers and uninsured workers is to join all of our surrounding states by expanding Medicaid immediately.

The response has been overwhelming. People across the state have been sending emails, mail and comments with online tools to explain their opposition to Healthy Pa. Many of them are citing the proposed benefit cuts, eliminating medical assistance for people with disabilities, unaffordable premiums and delays in coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured workers.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Antoinette Kraus

Last week, headlines read: "Devastating News for Obamacare: Over Two Million Workers Will Lose Jobs,” and Obamacare will push two million workers out of labor market."  Contrary to these fear-inducing, sensationalized storylines, instead of losing jobs by the millions, Americans, for the first time, will enjoy the freedom and flexibility of leaving the workforce voluntarily.  The CBO report that incited critics of the healthcare law actually makes it clear that the decline in workforce participation is not due to employers cutting jobs, but rather to workers choosing to work less.

The CBO report finds that the Affordable Care Act markedly increases the number of Americans with health insurance. The law gives individuals and their families the ability to access healthcare beyond the restrictions of employer-sponsored coverage. This coverage is portable and affordable, meaning that workers now have the freedom to choose -- they're free to take a risk and start a small business, free to take two years out of the workforce and get that college degree they never got a chance to finish, free to simply scale back their hours and spend more time at home with the kids.

Earlier this week, we met a mother of five from Philadelphia who, for years, had worked both a full-time job and a second, part-time job just so she could have health benefits. The 60+ hour work weeks exacted a heavy toll on her, keeping her away from her young children, and leaving her with the anguish of choosing between the health care she needed and seeing her children grow up.  Frustrated and exhausted, she chose her family, and left the part-time job, knowing that it would mean gambling with her health. That was in 2012 -- she's been uninsured ever since. On March 1st, her new Marketplace health coverage will kick in and she'll have the peace of mind that comes with being covered.

POSTED: Monday, December 16, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Antoinette Kraus

No one would deliberately design a health care system that leaves hundreds of thousands of low-income working families out in the cold, but that is exactly what will happen if Pennsylvania fails to expand Medicaid health coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act.

We are talking about hairdressers, mechanics, retail employees, waiters and waitresses, and others working in jobs that do not offer insurance. Their jobs pay too much to qualify for Medicaid now but not enough to get financial help buying insurance coverage through the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace. In other words, these Pennsylvanians are about to fall into the “Pennsylvania Gap.”

Governor Tom Corbett can prevent this by supporting the expansion to proceed in 2014 as the ACA envisioned. Instead, he has chosen a slower and much less secure path, proposing his own complex, 11th hour plan that will require federal approval to move forward and has no chance of getting done by Jan. 1.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 6:00 AM

The tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians who recently received cancellation notices from their health insurers are understandably worried.  Few know that feeling better than 41,000 Pennsylvanians who saw their adultBasic coverage cancelled two years ago.  The key difference: most of those who lost adultBasic weren’t able to find other coverage as insurers could still deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, charge high rates for skimpy coverage, and restrict care by placing lifetime and annual limits on coverage.

Those who lost adultBasic didn’t have access to tax credits to reduce their monthly premiums, or cost-sharing help to cut their out-of-pocket costs, as most of those receiving cancellation notices will, by getting a plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The two situations are not directly comparable, but there are some important lessons learned from this experience:

POSTED: Thursday, October 3, 2013, 12:04 PM
Filed Under: Antoinette Kraus

Last Friday, Arkansas received approval from the federal government to expand its Medicaid program in a manner that is different from the one envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. Last month, Governor Corbett announced “Healthy PA,” a plan he claims mirrors the Arkansas proposal. Both plans give premium assistance to most individuals making up to133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to purchase private insurance in the new health reform exchanges. Persons deemed “medically fragile” would still receive traditional Medicaid.

The Arkansas approval may seem like a positive sign for the Corbett plan, but there are key differences between the proposals that may prevent the Governor’s plan from being approved.

The Corbett proposal requires most unemployed Medicaid beneficiaries to conduct computer-based work searches or participate in job training. Because the overwhelming majority of them are already working, the federal government has said it will reject the work search requirement as a waste of time and money.

About this blog

The Field Clinic reports and analyzes health care laws, government policies, and political trends that are transforming the care we receive and the way we pay for it. Read more about our panel of bloggers here.

This blog is produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health-policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Portions of this blog may also be found on Inquirer.com and in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

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Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. Professor, School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health
Jeffrey Brenner, MD Founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Medical Director of the Urban Health Institute at Cooper University Healthcare
Andy Carter President & CEO, The Hospital & Healthsystem Assoc. of Pa.
Robert B. Doherty Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs & Public Policy American College of Physicians
Neil I. Goldfarb President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health
David Grande, MD, MPA Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Tine Hansen-Turton Chief Strategy Officer of Public Health Management Corporation
Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH Director of Health Policy Program at the Jefferson School of Population Health
Antoinette Kraus Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
Laval Miller-Wilson Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project
David B. Nash, MD, MBA Founding Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health
Howard J. Peterson, MHA Managing Partner of TRG Healthcare, a national healthcare consulting firm
Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH Deputy Mayor for Health & Opportunity and Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia
Paula L. Stillman, MD, MBA Healthcare consultant with special expertise in population health and disease management
Elizabeth A. W. Williams Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for Independence Blue Cross
Krystyna Dereszowska A third-year law student concentrating in health at Drexel
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