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DPW secretary: Pa. will delay Medicaid expansion decision

By - Last modified: December 13, 2012 at 1:25 PM

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Gary Alexander. Photo/Submitted
Gary Alexander. Photo/Submitted

Speaking to federal legislators today, Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander said Pennsylvania will delay its decision about expanding Medicaid for adults “until we have the flexibility to build a program that increases affordable and cost-effective coverage.”

"Under the constraints of the health care reform law, I do not think we can afford the expansion," Alexander told the Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health.

Alexander called Monday's news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will not provide full funding for partial expansion of Medicaid disappointing.

If Pennsylvania opted to proceed with a full expansion of Medicaid, Alexander said, "Our forecasts estimate the ACA would add 800,000 to 1 million more persons onto Medicaid. This means that ACA would boost the proportion of our population on Medicaid or CHIP from the current 19 percent to more than 25 percent.

"If we add the 15 percent of Pennsylvania's population on Medicare, after subtracting for persons on both Medicaid and Medicare, we would end up with more than 40 percent of our population on a federal health-care program. This number would approach the total employment numbers in our state. We have 5.7 million employed persons. But after the ACA expansion, we would have approximately 5.4 million residents on Medicaid, CHIP or Medicare."

Alexander estimated the costs Pennsylvania would bear under full expansion at $222 million the first year, $378 million the second year and $364 million the third year, rising to an estimated $883 million by state fiscal year 2020-21.

For the full text of Alexander's remarks, click here.

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Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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