BLOG: Celebrating One Year of Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania

By: Ted Dallas, Secretary of Human Services

February 08, 2016

Last February, Governor Wolf announced his decision to expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act, allowing individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to obtain health care coverage.

The expansion of the HealthChoices Medicaid program alleviated confusion, removed unnecessary red tape, and streamlined the system so that people can see a doctor when they are sick and healthcare professionals have more time to concentrate on providing quality care.

One year later, more than half a million Pennsylvanians who were not previously covered now have healthcare coverage thanks to Pennsylvania’s expansion of its Medicaid program. The commonwealth’s uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to below 8 percent today, and state General Fund costs have been reduced by more than $500 million.

Medicaid Expansion Infographic

This number of new enrollees is so significant, that if this group were a city, it would be the second largest city in Pennsylvania. That is a staggering amount of Pennsylvanians who did not have healthcare before.

Because of the expansion of Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people have a brighter future and better potential health outcomes.

This greatly enhances the fiscal well-being of our state. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, states that expanded Medicaid experienced substantially slower Medicaid spending growth (3.4 percent) than non-expansion states (6.9 percent).

Since his first days in office, Governor Wolf planned to transition Pennsylvania to a simple, traditional Medicaid expansion plan, in order to simplify a previously complicated process and ensure hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians would have greater access to the health insurance they need.

The federal government will assume 100 percent of the Medicaid costs of covering newly eligible individuals for the first three years. After that, states are required to contribute a percentage match, reaching the maximum 10 percent in 2021.

The overwhelming response to Medicaid expansion further proves the significant pent-up demand and need for health care in the commonwealth. Access to health care means Pennsylvanians can take charge of their health by receiving preventive services at the right time, in the appropriate place, avoiding costly trips to the emergency room.

My department is thrilled to see the success of this expansion in the one year since its announcement. We are excited to enroll even more Pennsylvanians in our next outreach efforts.

For more information on HealthChoices, visit www.HealthChoicesPA.com.

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