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Pa.’s Medicaid population swells

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

About one in six Pennsylvanians now qualify for the state’s public health plan for poor and disabled people. Pennsylvania’s Medicaid population has hit a new high. About 2.2 million residents are now eligible.

Michael Race is spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare.

Race: That’s up gradually over the years, by comparison about a decade ago in 2000 – 2001 we had about 1.4 million Pennsylvanians relying on Medical Assistance. It will likely increase as the population ages and as the economy lumbers on.

Long-term care for older people is often one of the costliest items on a Medicaid bill. Pennsylvania and others states are looking for ways to care for fragile older people in their homes to lower those costs.

Race says demand for all so-called welfare programs including food stamps and cash assistance also has increased in recent years.

Medicaid is a joint state and federal program, but states have some leeway in the health coverage they offer. Some analysis suggest that the Commonwealth has one of the most generous benefit packages in the country.

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