CAMPERS RETURN TO CAPITOL TO CALL FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

Author: The PLS Reporter/Monday, March 31, 2014/Categories: News and Views

CAMPERS RETURN TO CAPITOL TO CALL FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

By Jason Gottesman

Nine months ago, a group of advocates calling themselves “Faces of Medicaid” camped out at the Capitol outside the office of Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) to urge Gov. Tom Corbett to adopt Medicaid expansion in its entirety.

Monday, the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, several of the same campers returned to the Capitol with Sen. Hughes to again call on the governor to adopt Medicaid expansion wholesale, as opposed to the Healthy Pennsylvania plan that has been submitted to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Advocates argue adopting Medicaid expansion will provide needed insurance coverage to 500,000 Pennsylvanians who currently make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough for assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

“We need to adopt the program right now for these folks who need this insurance,” Sen. Hughes told supporters.

He said if adopted as introduced by the federal government, Medicaid expansion could provide insurance to people in Pennsylvania within 90 days. He further said it would take a year for the same people to obtain insurance under the governor’s plan.

“That is not acceptable,” Sen. Hughes stated.

May Lou Camery, an uninsured homecare worker hailing from Erie, was one of the campers last year and spoke at today’s news conference.

“I need Medicaid expansion and I don’t think it’s right for you to do this to me,” she said in reference to Gov. Corbett’s decision not to accept the program as offered by the federal government.

Guy Anthony called on Gov. Corbett “to do what’s right.”

“Gov. Corbett is possibly the only person to take a $500 million windfall and use it as an excuse to cut services,” Anthony argued.

“We are just realigning the benefits to meet individual needs,” said DPW Spokesperson Kait Gillis. “It’s not a cut to services.”

The governor’s plan was submitted to the federal government just a few weeks ago and negotiations with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are ongoing. If the governor’s plan is accepted, Gillis said, there is an anticipated January 2015 state date.

Will “Faces of Medicaid” camp again?

Despite her Multiple Sclerosis and it being difficult for her to sleep on floors, Eileen Warner said she would be back if asked. “I would do it again if it means one person could get insurance,” she said.

“We are not going to give up the fight to give high quality, low cost insurance to people that deserve it,” said Sen. Hughes.


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