Corbett care plan no longer cuts aid for disabled

Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed Healthy PA Medicaid reform plan – currently under final review by the federal government – no longer will seek to repeal a program that provides assistance for 33,000 low- and middle-income Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

“After looking at the [Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities] program, we realized that it falls in line with the governor’s goals,” said Kait Gillis, press secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. “It encourages employment while ensuring that the individual’s needs are met.”

Earlier versions of the Healthy PA plan, unveiled in September and submitted for federal review in February, would have eradicated the program.

Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities provides medical benefits to 33,000 Pennsylvanians who have no more than $10,000 in resources and a household income below 251 percent of the federal poverty level — or an individual annual salary of $29,175.

Under the previous version of Mr. Corbett’s proposal, workers with disabilities earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line would have been eligible to purchase private insurance through the federal marketplace with “premium assistance” from the state.

Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities recipients currently earning between 134 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level would have lost state-subsidized coverage altogether.

Through state webinars and public hearings, opponents of the repeal argued that workers with disabilities should not be expected to navigate the marketplace.

“Pennsylvanians came out and voiced their concerns over issues they wanted to be addressed [in the Healthy PA plan],” Ms. Gillis said. “This was one of those issues.”

In addition, opponents said that low-income workers earning above 133 percent of the poverty line would not be able to pay for the private coverage they needed. These individuals would be implicitly encouraged to work less, for fear of earning an income that would deprive them of state subsidies.

“This is a further attribution to the governor’s commitment to individuals with disabilities,” Ms. Gillis said.

Meanwhile, the final review of the Healthy PA plan remains underway.

“We’re still in negotiations with the federal government and hope to wrap up soon,” Ms. Gillis said.

Rocio Labrador: or 412-263-1370.

Rocio Labrador: or 412-263-1370. First Published July 24, 2014 3:11 PM

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