Pennsylvania passes 100K household applications for Medicaid expansion as coverage is to start

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — More than 100,000 applications for coverage under Pennsylvania's expanding Medicaid program have been received by the state ahead of Thursday's start of coverage, according to the Department of Human Services.

Household applications passed the 100,000 mark earlier this week, practically ensuring that the state-federal program that already covers more than 2.2 million Pennsylvanians will grow to a record in terms of people covered in 2015.

Enrollment began Dec. 1 in Pennsylvania under the guidelines of the 2010 federal health care law's Medicaid expansion.

A department spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency was unable to immediately say how many people were included in those household applications or how many of those people will be deemed to be eligible.

Answers could come sometime in January, spokeswoman Kait Gillis said.

It was also unclear how many of the new applicants were previously uninsured. Gillis said she was unsure whether the department would ever be able to answer that.

The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett says some 600,000 adult Pennsylvanians are newly eligible for the coverage. Under the broadening of Medicaid's income guidelines, childless adults under 65 and earning up to about $16,000 in 2014 are eligible. More parents under 65 also are eligible, depending on their income and number of children.

Previously, able-bodied adults under 65 were not eligible for Medicaid, unless they had practically no income. For instance, a single parent of two children making $6,500 a year or less is eligible under the current rules; under the expansion, he or she could earn up to about $27,000 a year and be eligible.

People who are newly enrolling can choose from Medicaid-funded insurance plans offered by eight insurers across nine geographic regions. Sicker people will be moved into the existing Medicaid program.

The expanded federal Medicaid subsidy became available to states in 2014, but it was delayed a year in Pennsylvania because Corbett had sought federal approval to make changes to it.

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