Pennsylvania won federal approval to expand its Medicaid program to nearly 500,000 low-income adults on Thursday, becoming the ninth state led by a Republican governor to join the expansion under the president’s health-care law.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett received the Obama administration’s permission to use money authorized by the Affordable Care Act to purchase private health insurance for poor adults. With Thursday’s announcement, Corbett and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to a plan that requires the same level of coverage offered by the traditional Medicaid program.
The agreement means that Pennsylvania joins 26 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid.
Medicaid coverage for Pennsylvania adults earning below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,500, will begin in January. Starting in 2016, adults earning above the federal poverty line will have to pay premiums worth no more than 2 percent of household income. Those adults can be dropped from the program for failing to pay premiums, but they can also receive discounts for healthy behaviors, like going for a check-up.
“Like we are doing in Pennsylvania, [the Department of Health and Human Services] and CMS are committed to supporting state flexibility and working with states on innovative solutions that work within the confines of the law to expand Medicaid to low-income individuals,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement. “But, unfortunately, millions of Americans are still without Medicaid coverage because their state has yet to act.”
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