The Corbett administration recently submitted a proposal for its alternative to Medicaid expansion, “Healthy PA.” As an organization that fights for women, the Women’s Law Project has serious concerns with this proposal:
Healthy PA puts barriers in the way of women who need access to care, requiring proof of searching for at least 12 jobs a month. This job search requirement even applies to new mothers who just had a baby. Research shows that women who take at least six weeks of maternity leave have improved physical and mental health and higher breastfeeding rates.
Healthy PA will impose premiums on people who are working at or near poverty levels. Many low-income women will have to go without health care they need because they cannot afford even a small premium. The current Medicaid program is not permitted to impose cost-sharing on pregnant women, children or family planning services.
The current Medicaid program covers a wide range of health services including reproductive health care, preventive and screening services, family planning and maternity care, up to 60 days postpartum. Why create an additional bureaucracy when states can simply expand the existing Medicaid program?
According to the National Women’s Law Center and Oregon Health & Sciences University 2010 health card, Pennsylvania placed 32nd among the 50 states and graded our state “unsatisfactory” with respect to the status of women’s health. If we want to improve women’s health, we need to expand Medicaid without adding unnecessary barriers to care.
SUSAN FRIETSCHE Senior Staff Attorney Women’s Law Project Western Pennsylvania Office Downtown
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