HARRISBURG, Pa., April 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Department of Human Services (DHS) celebrated the one-year anniversary of the commonwealth's Medicaid expansion. Secretary Ted Dallas was joined by Senator Vincent Hughes, advocates, providers, and stakeholders to commemorate the milestone in Philadelphia. HealthChoices is Pennsylvania's mandatory Medicaid managed care program since 1997.
"I am thrilled to see the success of this expansion in the one year since its announcement," said Governor Tom Wolf. "Because of the expansion of Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people have a brighter future and better potential health outcomes. We are excited to enroll even more Pennsylvanians in our next outreach efforts."
Pennsylvania citizens from all 67 counties benefitted from the expansion, with 16 counties enrolling more than 10,000 newly eligible people. Our expansion population demographic characteristics are:
- 46 percent are under 35 years old;
- 61 percent are white;
- more than 109,000 are parents; and
- nearly 300,000 are employed.
Low-income working families are the most likely to not have insurance due to affordability. Medicaid expansion helped to "cover the gap" between previous Medicaid eligibility and families being able to afford private health insurance using marketplace subsidies.
"Since Governor Tom Wolf expanded Medicaid, more than 625,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in HealthChoices and now have access to health care coverage," said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. "That means people are able to receive quality care when they're sick, are able to access preventive dental care, and can see a primary care doctor for routine health issues as opposed to utilizing the emergency room."
While Medicaid enrollment increases in the commonwealth, provider enrollment has also risen. Today there are more Medicaid providers than ever in Pennsylvania, as the number of Medicaid providers has increased from 92,801 in 2014 to 108,776 currently.
"Providing access to health care coverage was step one, but we need to be able to provide access to care as well," said Dallas. "We have seen an increase in several types of providers including dental, primary care, and behavioral health."
As Pennsylvania continues its battle with the opioid epidemic, expanding the Medicaid program enabled us to provide treatment to 63,000 Pennsylvanians who previously did not have access.
DHS today also kicked off its faith-based outreach initiative called the Spirit Challenge. The department is collaborating with several churches in southeast Pennsylvania to inform people about HealthChoices and encourage uninsured members to apply.
"Pennsylvania made history when Governor Wolf agreed to replace a hard-to-reach health insurance system with one that has delivered exactly what it promised: affordable care, better health, less dependency on welfare, and new jobs," Sen. Hughes said. "But even as we celebrate we must protect Medicaid expansion because those who fought to stop it are still fighting to end it. Thousands of Pennsylvanians have coverage and peace of mind thanks to Medicaid expansion."
"The Wolf Administration is working hard to eliminate the challenges, disparities, and inequalities that still exist as barriers to health care. A person's health is essential to their ability to succeed, their ability to care for their children, and their ability to work," said Dallas. "We understand that while progress has been made, there is still work to do and believe that the Spirit Challenge will help us to improve upon the racial and ethnic disparities in health care that persist across our minority communities."
HealthChoices delivers quality medical care and timely access to all appropriate services to 2.2 million children, individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, and low-income Pennsylvanians.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kait Gillis, 717.425.7606
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services