Future of Medicaid alternative uncertain in Pa.

A plan by Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett to provide subsidized health insurance to hundreds of thousands of residents could die shortly after it gets off the ground.

The program, recently approved by the Obama administration, is an alternative to the Medicaid expansion that other states have adopted under the Affordable Care Act. But Democratic candidate Tom Wolf says he would ditch Corbett’s Healthy PA plan if elected governor.

Under Corbett’s plan, low-income Pennsylvanians will be given federal subsidies to shop for health insurance on the private market. Corbett estimates more than 600,000 residents would be eligible and their coverage would begin in January 2015.

Wolf plans to instead expand access to Medicaid for those residents, said Katie McGinty, chairwoman of the political action committee Campaign for a Fresh Start, which coordinates with Wolf’s election campaign.

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“Tom Wolf would replace all of that with real expansion of Medicaid that would serve those 500,000 people, that would bring those billions of federal tax dollars to Pennsylvania, and create thousands of jobs at the same time,” she said.

Corbett campaign spokesman Bob Salera said making the switch would be a heavy lift.

“Not only would new policy have to be written and approved by the federal government,” he said, “but you’d be talking about a lot of stakeholders that have significant time and money investments in this program already.”

Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said “any state can work with CMS to change the terms of an approved waiver.”

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