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Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso issued the following statement today regarding the federal government's action on the Healthy PA waiver request:

"The federal government's decision to approve Pennsylvania's Healthy PA waiver moves the commonwealth forward in its efforts to improve access to health insurance for parents, which in turn helps enroll more kids. Still, PPC remains concerned that as the commonwealth moves ahead with implementation of the waiver, Medicaid premiums are established in a manner that is affordable for families, enabling them to balance the costs of health care with the financial demands of raising children.

"Our preference would have been for Pennsylvania to pursue Medicaid expansion as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. This waiver, despite its administrative complexity, is a viable alternative to Medicaid expansion for reaching PPC's goal of ensuring every child in the commonwealth has health care coverage. Either path – Medicaid expansion or Healthy PA – is intended to provide coverage to more low-income adults, many of whom are parents. We know from research that parents who are insured are more likely to have their children insured, so any effort to cover more adults can lead to coverage of more kids.

"As the commonwealth and CMS continue discussions on details of benefits packages, it will be important to ensure adults receive the health care services they need, regardless of what benefit package they may be enrolled in. When parents who are struggling with their own health care needs don't get the appropriate care they need, it makes them less able to focus their time and attention on raise their children.

"Lastly, we are pleased to see the federal government rejected a proposal that would have required former foster youth to meet certain work requirements at age 21 and required some 'aged out' foster youth to begin paying monthly Medicaid premiums in 2016. When the ACA required states to allow former foster youth to remain on Medicaid until age 26, it did so to ensure these young people would have the same access to health insurance as other young adults who can stay on a parent's coverage until age 26. Former foster youth already face enough challenges without erecting needless barriers to their success, so scrapping this unprecedented proposal is good news for those young people who are exiting foster care as they head into adulthood."

CONTACT:  Michael Race, Communications Director
717-236-5680 ext. 208
mrace@papartnerships.org

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