Washington Health Policy Week in Review

Washington Health Policy Week in Review is a weekly newsletter that offers selected stories from the daily newsletter CQ HealthBeat.

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Corbett Releases Draft Medicaid Expansion Waiver Request

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

December 6, 2013 -- Pennsylvanians will get a chance to weigh in on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's Medicaid expansion plan in six hearings and two webinars before the state formally sends its plan, which contains controversial work requirements for beneficiaries, to federal officials for approval.

Corbett released his 97-page draft waiver request Friday morning. The last event is scheduled for Jan. 9. State officials say they don't know how long it will take to polish the proposal after the hearings.

State officials say they have coordinated closely with federal officials on the governor's "Healthy Pennsylvania" plan.

But some parts of it cause concern for consumer advocates. Those include the imposition of monthly premiums as well as requirements that non-disabled people who are working less than 20 hours per week look for more work. Pennsylvania would be the first state to require people to participate in a job search or training program to get Medicaid benefits.

Under Corbett's Medicaid plan, people who are between the ages of 21 and 65 who are working less than 20 hours weekly would have to register with the state's online system for residents who are registered with the unemployment insurance program. Those people would have to do 12 "work search" activities per month during the first six months of coverage in order to keep their Medicaid coverage.

A spokeswoman said those activities could include attending a job fair, looking for jobs posted on the state online system, creating or posting a resume online or contacting people to let them know of the applicant's job search. The activities also could include using a job search service, taking a civil service test or other pre-employment test, or applying for a job.

The premium for new enrollees would be set up on a sliding scale based on income, and recipients could get lower rates for meeting certain requirements like an annual physical, completing a health assessment and paying premiums on time.