Aly Mance, WLP Intern
According to a new national report covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer, there has been a dramatic drop in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid enrollment. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation report, Pennsylvania dropped more than 9 percent of children, families, and pregnant women from Medicaid over the past year. This percentage is nearly triple that of any other state in the country. Pennsylvania’s total Medicaid enrollment also dropped 5.3% during the time period of the report, June 2011 to June 2012. This is the sharpest drop in any state in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, in other states, Medicaid enrollment is on the rise.
It should come as no surprise that the timing of the report coincides with the time when the Corbett administration directed state workers to conduct expedited reviews of thousands of backlogged cases. The result was a decline of more than 80,000 insured children over several months. Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s smaller Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) also fell during this time.
In addition, while the state did not change existing enrollment policies, it did report that they were more thoroughly applying existing ones. The state indicated that this could result in more cases being closed for failure to submit documentation. Many cases backlogged early in the Corbett administration were closed—the person’s insurance terminated—because of lack of documentation. Community Legal Services of Philadelphia filed a complaint over the disenrollment and threatened to sue the state, resulting in an agreement to send follow-up letters to more than 100,000 Medicaid recipients who had their insurance terminated for this purported “lack of documentation.”
While other states are streamlining their Medicaid enrollment processes to ensure that people who are eligible for Medicaid receive it, Pennsylvania and the Corbett Administration are trying to attack people who they believe are taking advantage of the system. These attacks result in people who truly deserve to receive Medicaid being denied coverage. In recent years, Congress has prohibited states from saving money by making major eligibility changes or imposing new enrollment restrictions in Medicaid programs. Because Governor Corbett cannot outright cut Medicaid, the biggest item on Pennsylvania’s budget, he and his administration are searching for every back handed way to deny Pennsylvanians the aid they qualify for. Not only is Governor Corbett refusing to expand Medicaid, he is crippling it, and children and families are suffering the most.