Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has released a rough outline of how the state will pick apart his predecessor’s alternative plan for Medicaid expansion.
Secretary of the state’s Department of Human Services, Ted Dallas, said the switchover to a traditional expansion will happen in two phases and should be complete by the end of September.
“One thing we really want to do is make sure that the process is simpler, there’s less bureaucracy, and that no folks get their lives further disrupted than they already have been,” said Dallas.
Starting April 27th, all new Medicaid enrollees will be placed in a single benefits program instead of one of several Healthy PA coverage tracks, which varied depending on medical need.
Existing enrollees in the most generous plan, Healthy Plus — along with those receiving general assistance or SelectPlan coverage through the private coverage option — will transition first, between late April and June. A second wave of transfers for the remaining private coverage option beneficiaries will start in July. No benefits will change until an individual is notified, added Dallas.
The announcement provides an end date to one of the most controversial elements of the Corbett system, namely, the health questionnaire that determined coverage eligibility, and sometimes mistakenly placed sicker enrollees in plans that didn’t cover vital services, such as dialysis.
“Since we’re going to have one streamlined package, we no longer need that screening tool,” said Dallas.
The rollout also prioritizes those with SelectPlan coverage, which spurred one of several lawsuits brought against the state regarding Healthy PA. Kristen Dama, a staff attorney for Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said in an email that the group had dropped one case, but is in active negotiation for two others.
The exact benefits that will comprise the sole Medicaid package for Pennsylvania are still being debated with the Federal government, but should be detailed later this month.