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WATCHBLOG: State receives ACA info from feds

By   /   December 10, 2012  /   No Comments

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s administration received new information about implementing a health insurance exchange and a Medicaid expansion on Monday, two major state requirements in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter and 17 pages of frequently asked questions to governors of all 50 states on Monday.

According to Christine Cronkright, deputy director of communications in the governor’s press office, the administration received this information at 2:30 p.m. Monday and is still reviewing the documents.

This information arrives after Gov. Tom Corbett has said, multiple times, that state officials have been waiting for more guidance from the federal government before making a decision. 

For example, in August, Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander asked  HHS if there was a deadline for making a decision about the Medicaid expansion, among 20 other questions.

The new national eligibility limits for Medicaid, starting in 2014, will expand to 133 percent of the poverty level, or an annual income of $14,404 for a single person or $33,657 for a family of four.  States can choose whether or not to use this level or eligibility.

In the new state FAQ, the answer is clear: No deadline for making the decision. But 100 percent federal funding covering the newly eligible recipients will only last until 2017, before dropping down incrementally to 90 percent.

Pennsylvania is one of 25 states that hasn’t formally declared whether it will go ahead with the Medicaid expansion. But Corbett has said it will be expensive – despite the shared cost with the federal government.

In March 2010, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimated Pennsylvania would receive at least $17 billion in federal funds between 2014 and 2019 for the expansion.

A March 2011 joint congressional report from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, concluded that the Medicaid expansion would cost states a total of $118 billion — around $2 billion alone in Pennsylvania from 2014 through 2019.

Pennsylvania is one of 8 states that hasn’t publicly made up its mind about the health insurance exchange, a requirement of the law that creates an online insurance-purchasing marketplace aimed at keeping pricing transparent and competitive.

A letter must be sent to HHS saying whether the exchange will be state-based, federally run or a partnership by Dec. 14.

Already, the administration received draft regulations for the health care exchange, which Corbett criticized for being merely a draft and arriving late in the decision-making process.

Contact Melissa Daniels at [email protected]


Melissa formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.