Corbett expected to act on Medicaid

     (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    (Matt Rourke/AP Photo, file)

    Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to make an announcement about proposed changes to Medicaid in Pennsylvania next week.

    What’s being proposed isn’t a flat-out expansion, as administration officials emphasize.

    “It is based on a Pennsylvania solution for health care focusing in on quality, accessibility and affordability,” said Lynn Lawson, Corbett’s spokeswoman.

    The plan appears to involve making changes to Medicaid and using federal subsidies to pay for private health insurance for low-income Pennsylvanians.

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    It’s a clever way to get the federal windfall so many want, and still resist the Medicaid expansion that many others abhor.

    But even if the plan bridges political divides, it may not bridge budget differentials, according to Dr. David Grande, a health economics researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “For this to work, it needs to not cost more money. The reason that Medicaid is often relied upon as a primary way to cover low-income people is it’s cheaper,” Grande said.

    Whatever the governor proposes will need federal approval.

    Grande said if Corbett’s reform plan includes additional cost-sharing with consumers or less comprehensive coverage, a green light isn’t likely.

    Under the federal Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand the Medicaid program, with the feds financing it for the first three years. Corbett and many other Republicans leaders oppose any such expansion, citing Medicaid’s huge size and cost.

    Advocates say an expansion would give health care access to more than half million low-income residents.

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