Healthy PA goes into effect, but how long will it last?

Penny Johnson has health issues. Many health issues. And until today she had no way to pay for them.

“I got a lot of medical care. I’m sick. I have lupus. I have blood clots. Right now I need bloodwork done and I can’t pay to get it done,” the 54-year old North Philly resident said Monday. Johnson became one of the first Pennsylvanians to sign up for health insurance through “Healthy PA,” a Medicaid-like program that went into effect Monday and expanded eligibility for subsidized insurance to 600,000 Pennsylvanians.
Her monthly bill for co-payments on medicines to treat the lupus costs $500. “I can’t afford this by myself,” she said, at Quality Community Health Care at 25th and Lehigh Avenue.
Johnson was told her Medicaid assistance would be terminated Monday, adding to the pressure to find a solution.
“I haven’t really been sleeping good because I’m stressing. Now I can take care of myself,” she said.
Some healthcare advocates have doubts about Healthy PA, which Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, who takes office Jan. 20, did not support and reportedly plans to dismantle.
“We are happy that folks are getting coverage. Is Healthy PA the ideal plan that we want to see? No,” said Antoinette Kraus, director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.
“It’s a very limited package … You’re creating a whole other system that’s separate from Medicaid and the [Obamacare] marketplace,” Kraus said. “We’re going to continue to advocate to the Wolf administration to fix the problems.”
Healthy PA was designed by by Gov. Tom Corbett as an alternative to a straight expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.
Individuals with an income between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to sign up for subsidized insurance programs offered by private companies.
Pennsylvania has a health care marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act, and aides to incoming Gov. Tom Wolf said that even if the Democrat discontinues Healthy PA, enrollees wan’t have their healthcare disrupted.

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