‘Healthy PA’ application advances

    The head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare is optimistic the federal government will approve the state’s recently submitted Medicaid waiver application.

    The federal government is advancing the plan into a 30-day public comment period, said Bev Mackereth, DPW secretary.

    The Healthy PA plan would overhaul the existing Medicaid program while drawing down federal dollars to help create a new “private insurance option” for a half-million low-income, uninsured Pennsylvanians.

    Federal officials must approve it plan before Gov. Tom Corbett can use funds earmarked for Medicaid expansion to bankroll Healthy PA

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has already granted similar Medicaid waivers in Iowa, Michigan and Arkansas.

    If Pennsylvania’s application is approved, it would mark the first time a state has ever tied a work-search requirement to its Medicaid program.

    The program would connect participants with current job openings and employment resources, said Mackereth.

    “All of the research out there shows that if people are working, their physical health and mental health outcomes are better,” she said on WITF’s “Smart Talk” program.

    The requirement would apply only to working age adults. Disabled Pennsylvanians, and anyone working more than 20 hours a week, would be exempt.

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