Pennsylvania's overall uninsured rate dropped to 6.4 percent last year, according to Census data.
The state Department of Human Services on Wednesday credited Gov. Tom Wolf's expansion of the Medicaid program last year, noting a drop in the uninsured rate among adults ages 18 to 64, from 11.7 percent in 2014 to 8.7 percent in 2015.
Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to the poor and disabled, and the expansion of the program last year covers Pennsylvanians age 19 to 64 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
When Mr. Wolf took office, he scrapped the Medicaid alternative briefly enacted by his predecessor, Tom Corbett, and fully expanded Medicaid as permitted under the Affordable Care Act.
The expansion included more than 670,000 Pennsylvanians to date, according to state statistics.
“Pennsylvania's decision to expand Medicaid has brought security and peace of mind to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who were previously shut out of access to health coverage,” said Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
Census data show the uninsured rate among Pennsylvanians was 8.5 percent in 2014, dropping to 6.4 percent in 2015, meaning about 802,000 people remain uninsured. Within Allegheny County, the uninsured rate dropped to 4.8 percent from 6.2 percent.
The number of uninsured children statewide dropped to 3.7 percent in 2015 from 4.9 percent in 2014.
Adults age 19 to 64 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, the population that became newly eligible for Medicaid last year, saw their uninsured rate fall from 25.4 percent in 2014 to 17.8 percent in 2015.
Some people remain uninsured because they have an income that is too high to qualify for Medicaid and have not found an affordable health care plan either through their employer or on the federal health insurance exchange. That could be due to issues with the Medicaid application process, or for other reasons, said Mary Herbert, clinical director at Birmingham Free Clinic on Pittsburgh's South Side.
Similarly, Annette Fetchko, administrator at Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, said her agency often sees individuals who essentially fall into a gap — earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but who are unable to afford a plan because of high premiums or deductible costs.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction. We are closing the [uninsured] gap, but the people that are struggling the most are still hanging out there,” Ms. Herbert said.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.