UPDATE - Off Welfare Without Insurance...Computer Glitch Partly to Blamegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
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NOTE: Computer glitch mentioned in 3rd paragraph.
Off Welfare Without Insurance
Story Filed: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 9:40 AM EST
Jun. 21, 2000 (States via COMTEX) -- WASHINGTON (June 19) - Pennsylvania ranks 15th nationwide for the largest number of uninsured adults, according to a study released Monday by Families USA - a group lobbying for universal health coverage. "If a parent works full time that parent is not going to qualify for Medicaid in Pennsylvania.," said Rachel Klein, the report's author.
"What we know of low-wage workers is that the employer usually does not offer health insurance and if they do, it is frequently too expensive for that worker to afford." Klein, basing her study on Census Bureau and state government statistics, asserted that 945,880 low-income adults with children were bumped from the Medicaid rolls nationwide since welfare reform started in 1996. In the same period, 75,975 low-income Pennsylvania parents became uninsured. According to the study, a Pennsylvania parent in a three-person family was dropped from Medicaid if he or she had an income of more than $10,080 - 71percent of the federal poverty level. Income eligibility levels are set individually by each state. In the report, a parent making more than 22 percent of the poverty level, $3, 168 a year, is ineligible for Medicaid in Louisiana. Medicaid rolls have declined in the past four years by 27 percent, from 3.5 million to 2.5 people million nationwide. Georgia had the largest decline in the percentage in parent Medicaid enrollment with 51 percent leaving its rolls. In California 155,846 were dropped - the highest number for one state.
The report found that many parents lost medical coverage when state computers automatically took them off Medicaid when they moved from welfare to work - as was the case in Pennsylvania. Parents in other states also lost their coverage when caseworkers failed to tell them about their continued Medicaid eligibility. While the report puts Pennsylvania among the top 15 states with the largest number of uninsured parents, Klein also contended that the some of the reasons that contributed to the number of uninsured were being addressed. Susan Aspey, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said the computer glitch had been fixed.
And in April, 1999 the state sent out 32,000 cards to inform former welfare recipients that they may be eligible for Medicaid coverage. The state plans to spend $17.5 million on the outreach effort - including television advertisements and brochures placed inside county offices. "We're probably the only state that has seen a slight increase," in the number of parents on Medicaid, Aspey said. Aspey said that while the number of Medicaid-insured adults declined from 1.6 million in 1996 to 1.39 in December, 1999, there was an increase of approximately 110,000 to 1.41 million this May. Governor Tom Ridge has proposed using the money Pennsylvania gained from settling a lawsuit with tobacco companies to insure those kicked off of Medicaid and without insurance. Pennsylvania will receive $11 billion over the next 25 years from the lawsuit, which was settled in 1998. The governor's office expects the state legislature to take up his proposal this fall.
By Laura J. Winter
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 21, 2000