Can Corbett’s Medicaid Plan Bring Coverage to the 116,500 Working Uninsured in Southeastern Pennsylvania?

The southeastern Pennsylvania health care community is encouraged by Governor Corbett’s unveiling of Healthy PA, the administration’s plan to strengthen Pennsylvanians’ access to affordable, high-quality health care.

Of crucial importance are the plan’s provisions for providing health coverage for Pennsylvanians earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The success of Healthy PA will depend in large part on finding innovative, sustainable ways to maintain our state's existing Medicaid health care safety net while also providing new, affordable, comprehensive health coverage options for low-income uninsured Pennsylvanians. In the Healthy PA plan, these new coverage options would be made available through the state's health insurance marketplace, or exchange.

Healthy PA’s exchange-based coverage options must be affordable for the individuals involved, who are earning less than $15,800 annually, as well as for the state budget, the commonwealth, and health care providers. The hospital community looks forward to additional details about how the Healthy PA framework will access and use the federal funds, available under the Affordable Care Act, to expand coverage for low-income Pennsylvanians, bring economic stimulus to our state, and reduce the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals.

Under Healthy PA, these new coverage options would be consistent with federal requirements for insurance plans offered on state health insurance exchanges. Known as essential health benefits, these requirements define the range of emergency, outpatient, acute care, rehabilitation, and behavioral health benefits insurers must provide. By meeting these requirements, the coverage offered as part of Healthy PA would be comprehensive and aligned with other commercial insurance plans on the exchange.

Hospitals especially appreciate that Healthy PA includes measures designed to strengthen access to primary care. The Governor’s call for loan forgiveness for primary care physicians and increased funding to support their education is welcome news to the region's many medical schools, hospitals, and clinics. The plan also contains provisions that could help improve the still difficult medical liability environment in Philadelphia.

The hospital community of southeastern Pennsylvania sees much promise in Healthy PA. We look forward to working with the Corbett administration and other health care stakeholders to achieve the most important goal: affordable, sustainable, comprehensive health coverage for 116,500 hard-working, low-income, uninsured adults in our region.

Curt Schroder is the Regional Executive of Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP.

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