Health - December 6, 2013


Governor Corbett to seek federal approval for Medicaid expansion plan

Governor Tom Corbett announced his HealthyPA plan three months ago and today the draft of that plan was released for public comment (http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol43/43-49/2284.html).  In January he will submit a waiver to the federal government to get approval to use federal dollars to provide private health insurance to the approximately 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians.  The plan also includes provisions to reform the “state’s traditional Medicaid program.” Those reforms include requiring able-bodied adults to be actively job searching or in a job training program to receive coverage; the elimination of co-pays for a monthly premium for certain adults, and incentives for meeting certain “health goals.”  The monthly premium would be set up on a sliding scale based on income with reduced rates for meeting the aforementioned health goals.  The premium targets adults earning more than 50 percent of the federal poverty line and would be waived for pregnant women, the disabled and those with the lowest incomes.  Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth said the plan “is a comprehensive solution to improve health outcomes.” 

PA would be the first state to require able-bodied adults to be looking for work or in a training program to receive coverage; this doesn’t gel with federal law which prohibits such a requirement.  The US Department of Health and Human services spokesman, Fabien Levy, said they look forward to working with PA and “aim to be flexible” but want to ensure Medicaid beneficiaries are receiving “all of the protections afforded to them under the law.”  PA is one of the last major states to make a decision on Medicaid expansion.  The administration will hold six hearings across the state for public comments and two webinars on the draft proposal and then there will also be a federal comment period.  More information on the state hearings and webinars can be found on the DPWs website: http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/healthypa/index.htm.    

 

PA Transportation Secretary outlines top transportation projects

Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said this week that there will be a “significant increase” in bridge construction and repair, paving, and intersection work in the spring.  Structurally deficient bridges and delayed general road maintenance are top priorities in the months to come. These types of projects will be the first to benefit from the new transportation funding law.  Specific projects will be “identified and bid through the coming winter and spring,” though there are many projects that are ready to roll and just needed the funding to get started.  PennDOT also hopes to partner with municipalities in an effort to reduce congestion in areas that see high volumes; efforts will include upgrading signals and intersections and attempting to relieve bottlenecks.