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Politics & Government

State to Hire 720 Employees to Expand Medicaid

Pennsylvania is excepting to add 720 new employees to accommodate the influx of new healthcare enrollees if Healthy PA goes into effect. 

According to the Department of Public Welfare, the additional jobs would be permanent and spread across the state. Funding for the new hires would come from the federal government.

Healthy Pa is Gov. Tom Corbett's answer to the option to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.  The administration rejected the expansion, saying it would cost Pennsylvania taxpayers. Corbett and his team then began to negotiate a waiver to allow the state to launch a hybrid program that the administration says is expected to serve some 500,000 low income Pennsylvanians.

David Spishock, budget director for Department of Public Welfare, said he suspects the number will grow. 

“They may come in thinking they’re coming in to Healthy PA, but we find out they’re actually eligible for Medicaid so we’re probably closer to looking at a little over 600,000 people coming into the system,” he said.

With such an overwhelming amount of people projected to sign up for healthcare benefits, the state was compelled to hire more workers.

“The burden on our case workers is enormous," Spishock said. "Caseworkers are probably overworked right now.”

New case workers, 606 of them, will be assigned to the county assistance offices scattered throughout the state and additional new employees will be added in regional offices and at the main office in Harrisburg.

According to Spishock, the Affordable Care Act would have cost the state $218 million in 2014/15, but contends Healthy PA will save the state $125 million. Those numbers are under dispute.  A spokesperson for House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody says other sources predict a greater savings through simple expansion of Medicaid.

The state is projecting to spend $133 million with $40 million of that going to the 720 new jobs and IT changes that come with hiring new people.