HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will become the 10th Republican governor Monday to publicly support bringing federal Medicaid expansion dollars to their states in a bid to extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of working poor.
Corbett, who was expected to make the announcement after a brief afternoon tour of Harrisburg Hospital’s emergency room, is a conservative and a staunch critic of Medicaid who sued to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
Corbett will insist that the deal he is seeking — similar to one already being sought by Iowa and Arkansas — does not amount to a Medicaid expansion. Under that format, the PPACA Medicaid expansion dollars would pay the premiums for newly eligible adults to get private insurance in a new health care marketplace instead of being used to expand the tradition Medicaid coverage that typically pays lower reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.
Corbett’s embrace of the money comes after heavy pressure by a broad coalition of Democratic lawmakers, labor unions, hospital executives, advocates for the poor, the NAACP, the AARP and the Republican-controlled state Senate. Critics say he has dragged his feet on the issue for too long.
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The federal Medicaid expansion dollars become available Jan. 1. But it is not yet clear whether the Obama administration will agree to Corbett’s conditions, and the Corbett administration has yet to submit a request for approval to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, Corbett’s public welfare secretary, Beverly Mackereth, has said that the administration will probably need until 2015 to negotiate and prepare for a Medicaid expansion plan, even if Pennsylvania agrees to accept the dollars.
Questions surrounding that kind of plan include who will pay the difference if private insurance policies are more expensive than Medicaid coverage, how to administer such a concept and how those private plans will reflect Medicaid guarantees of certain benefits and limits on cost-sharing, said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors in Washington.