“Caring for the health of others expresses both love for our neighbors and responsibility for a just society.”  – from the ELCA Social Statement Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor

Congregations can care for the health of others by making sure their communities learn about new options for health insurance coverage in Pennsylvania’s new health insurance marketplace. As many as 80% of the almost 900,000 uninsured adults and children in Pennsylvania may not know they will be eligible to receive tax credits to help lower their cost of health insurance. You can help bridge that gap.

Pennsylvanians can now apply for financial help, compare health plan options and enroll in the plan of their choice for coverage that begins January 1, 2014. As the Commonwealth opted not to create its own state-based health insurance exchange, Pennsylvanians will use the national site at healthcare.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596 (Cuidado.gov for Spanish speakers). Translators for more than 50 languages are available at 1-800-318-2596. In person assistance is also available through trained navigators – contact the LAMPa office to find one near you. Pennsylvania also has its own health insurance website at PAHealthOptions.com.

View this Infographic on what the Affordable Care Act will mean in Pennsylvania.

 On September 16, the Corbett administration announced that it would take up the federal option to expand Medicaid health coverage to individuals who would be newly eligible under the Affordable Care Act. The plan, called Healthy PA has three major components:

  • A restructuring of the current Medicaid system with a scaled back benefit plan, new cost sharing, and a work search requirement.
  • New health care coverage for 520,000 additional Pennsylvanians who would be given financial support (premium assistance) to purchase a commercial health insurance product on the insurance exchange. An additional 90,000 people who are deemed to be medically fragile would have the option to enroll in the existing Medicaid program.
  • Incentives to increase the supply of health care providers through additional funding to community health centers, additional physician loan forgiveness in rural areas, telemedicine, and the continued expansion of electronic health records.

It also eliminates the current six-month waiting period for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and reauthorizes this popular program (currently 1 in 20, or roughly 148,000 children in the Commonwealth are uninsured).

The administration will have to convince the federal government that the experimental proposals are worth doing and meet federal requirements for waivers. If approved, some of the proposed measures, including changes in the benefit package, may require changes in state law. Whether the General Assembly will allow other changes without legislation is not clear. Stay tuned!

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