Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, long a critic of his predecessor’s version of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, on Monday took the first step toward replacing it.
That step was directing the state Department of Human Services to withdraw a pending piece of the Healthy PA program from further federal consideration. Wolf proposes to replace Healthy PA’s three benefit plans with a single one that the DHS is working with the federal government to develop.
“Today is the first step toward simplifying a complicated process and ensuring hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have greater access to the health insurance they need,” Wolf said in a news release.
Former Gov. Tom Corbett billed Healthy PA, which took effect Jan. 1, as a simplification of the state’s 14 existing Medicaid plans.
Wolf disagreed, with his release citing “people not receiving important treatment, confusion among recipients, and special populations being placed into the wrong plans” as examples of “complications under Healthy PA.”
“Our approach will alleviate confusion, remove unnecessary red tape, and streamline the system so that people can see a doctor when they are sick and health care professionals have more time to concentrate on providing quality care,” Wolf said.
The release said no coverage will be immediately impacted, and that the state “will continue to provide individuals with appropriate health care coverage” while the transition is in progress.
Ted Dallas, acting secretary of the Pa. Department of Human Services, said the department is already making changes to eligibility systems that will take effect “this spring,” enabling the department to transition people from two of the Healthy PA plans to the new Medicaid one.
The third Healthy PA plan, known as the Private Coverage Option, or PCO, is for those newly eligible under the expanded income limits. The release said the transition from that plan “will occur over a longer period of time to ensure that individuals are clearly informed of these changes and they do not experience any gap in coverage. “
The announcement drew quick kudos from Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
Heather Stauffer covers the health care industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-481-6022.