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PA Looks to Other States in Medicaid Talks

If there’s any expansion at all to move hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians onto the Medicaid rolls, it’ll have to be custom-made for the commonwealth.

Department of Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth says her staff is looking at how other states have made the expansion a partly public-private partnership – sending people to buy health care insurance from the federally mandated exchange and using federal dollars to pay for it.

Other things, she says, require more negotiation.

"The governor feels very strongly about a work search requirement and the feds initially said: 'absolutely no way, you can’t tie it,'" Mackereth said. "They’re still saying no way, but now they’re saying: 'you know what, if you build it into what you do every day, and if work search is part of everything, that’s different.'"

Politically speaking, the search for reforms is important.
The state Legislature would need to sign off on a Medicaid expansion plan.

It has majority support in the Senate, as well as the favor of House Democrats.

But it doesn’t stand a strong chance of coming to a vote in the House unless Republican lawmakers there feel satisfied they’ve seen sufficient reforms.