July 22, 2024 6:40 am
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PA aims to simplify health coverage for kids with Medicaid waiver

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

proposed waiver would eliminate Medicaid issues by ensuring uninterrupted coverage for qualified children until they turn 6.

If approved by the federal government, the Section 1115 waiver would leverage Medicaid funding for various social programs, helping to insure about 145,000 Pennsylvania children without health insurance.

Patrick Keenan, policy director for the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, said the waiver is a request from Pennsylvania to change specific rules and includes four main options.

“One is ensure that kids have eligibility that doesn’t get interrupted because of paperwork, errors or other kinds of things,” Keenan outlined. “Second is increased kind of access to healthy foods for folks that have certain medical conditions where food can really be the best medicine.”

Keenan noted option three helps people find and keep stable housing that fits their health needs, and the last step helps people coming out of incarceration get connected to Medicaid immediately. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services applied for the waiver in January, and it is expected to be approved in the fall.

Keenan pointed out paperwork errors or missed documents have resulted in children being disconnected from coverage during the pandemic. He argued it is essential for children to have continuous coverage to avoid issues when needing to see a doctor.

“Kids receiving Medicaid, that can often mean that they lose their Medicaid coverage, and they don’t get the immunizations, they don’t get the well visits that they need,” Keenan explained. “Then the worst instances they break an arm or have some kind of other accident that requires emergency attention and don’t have health coverage when they need it the most.”

Keenan added his statewide organization assists about 10,000 Pennsylvanians annually with health insurance questions, medical bills, finding doctors and enrollment in Medicaid, CHIP and Pennie, the state insurance marketplace.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.