Is 'Corbettcare' on the rocks? Gov says 'no common ground' with feds

Gov. Corbett said today he is may be nearing a decision on whether to pull the plug on his proposal to offer health insurance for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians.

Corbett, in his strongest statement on the year-long Medicaid negotiations, said he is "reaching his breaking point" with the federal government.

"We've been negotiating for a year and I am starting to feel like a yo-yo," said Corbett, speaking to reporters after addressing doctors and health professionals at a state-sponsored public health conference,. "You go down one lane and then they pull you back."

Corbett defended his "Healthy PA" plan as a "very good proposal" to expand health insurance for low income Pennsylvanians and reform the existing the Medicaid program

Corbett gave no details on the specific issues holding up the talks, saying "that's as far as I am going to go."

Bev Mackereth, the Department of Public Welfare secretary, said it wasn't that any specific piece of the proposal was being rejected but rather the tone of a phone conference last week in which she did not participate.

"Maybe we heard negatives after we always had the impression they would approve," she said.

Corbett's submitted his "Healthy PA" proposal to the Department of Health and Human Services in February. He is seeking a waiver to impose controversial job search requirements and require premiums for an additional 500,000 potential Medicaid recipients and reduce benefits and cut services for the 2.2 million already in the program.

Earlier this month Corbett retreated somewhat on the job search, suggesting in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius that he would like to turn the work-search requirement into "a voluntary, one-year pilot program to positively encourage those who are able to work" by reducing premiums.

Corbett had said he wants to have the program in place by Jan. 1, 2015. Had his administration accepted Medicaid expansion as 25 other states have done, individuals could have begun receiving insurance in January.

A 30-day federal public comment period ends April 10.





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