Wolf says he would consider a traditional Medicaid expansion

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Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor, welcomed the prospect of expanded access to health care for many Pennsylvanians under the compromise between the Corbett and Obama administrations but said that, if elected, he would consider a more straightforward extension of Medicaid.

Mr. Wolf spoke the day after the federal government agreed to key elements of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Healthy PA, proposal, which would provide expanded access to health care for as many as 600,000 less affluent Pennsylvanians. Rather than the expansion of the existing Medicaid program as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act, the Corbett plan would provide subsidies to low-income residents to buy insurance in the private market. The federal government agreed to the plan after months of negotiations. In the course of the talks, the Republican administration agreed to drop some controversial elements of its original proposal, notably, a work search requirement for beneficiaries of the premium subsidies.

Although his campaign had earlier issued a statement criticizing Mr. Corbett for the delay in expanded care that the lengthy talks with Washington created, Mr. Wolf struck more positive notes about the agreement while campaigning here Friday.

“It seems like fairly close to an expansion of Medicaid, and that’s what I’ve always been for,” the Democrat said. “... I’m still learning about the differences between this, the waivers, and just expansion of Medicaid.”

Asked if he would amend the agreement, substituting the straightforward Medicaid expansion he and other Democrats have called for in the past, Mr. Wolf said, “That’s a good question. If I were lucky enough to be elected governor, I would take office five months from now, and I would have to see what my options actually were.”

The Healthy PA plan is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, just before the next administration takes office. Mr. Wolf spoke during a campaign tour of the Bidwell Training Center on the North Side.

James O’Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.

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