A health-policy veteran is joining Tom Wolf’s transition to help guide the governor-elect’s plans to expand the Medicaid program in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia resident Estelle Richman, who worked for the Obama administration, she served as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare during the tenure of fomer Gov. Ed Rendell. She’s also held a variety of city offices, including health commissioner, during an extensive career.
Richman has already helped in conversations with federal officials, said Katie McGinty, Wolf’s chief of staff.
“With leadership from Estelle Richman, there’s very good news,” McGinty said. “Federal officials are telling us that if the current administration cooperates with the incoming administration, even as early as Jan. 1, Pennsylvanians can have the benefit of full Medicaid coverage.”
McGinty’s idea of cooperation doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.
“Unfortunately, the indications to date are that the current administration is moving fairly aggressively forward to cement Healthy PA in place, which represents a waste of energy and taxpayer dollars,” McGinty said.
The Healthy PA program is incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett’s version of a Medicaid overhaul. Under that plan, health coverage for up to 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians is set to start Jan. 1.
Laval Miller-Wilson, director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, says Richman is a good pick to help facilitate the tricky transition work in Pennsylvania.
“Medicaid is a state and federal administered program. It’s nice to have someone who has that experience both at the federal level and the state level,” Miller-Wilson said.
He expects Richman will be a listening ear for consumers as the Corbett plan moves forward in coming weeks.
“We’re probably not going to see very much in terms of changes in terms of policies until Gov. Wolf takes office in January,” Miller-Wilson said.
“What she’s likely do in December is ask people: ‘How it’s doing? Is the state’s communication good?’ She’ll be asking lots of those questions: ‘How well is it working?'” Miller-Wilson said.