Women at Risk of Losing Crucial Family Planning Health Coverage in Pennsylvania

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Women at Risk of Losing Crucial Family Planning Health Coverage in Pennsylvania

Nina Liss-Schultz

Some 90,000 women in Pennsylvania could lose family planning health-care coverage next year if the state government does not continue its unqiue Medicaid program.

Some 90,000 women in Pennsylvania could lose family planning health-care coverage next year if the state government does not continue its unqiue Medicaid program.

In Pennsylvania, a state-run health-care program called SelectPlan provides free family planning services, including birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and routine checkups, to women ages 18-44 and with incomes up to 214 percent of the federal poverty level.

But the program is set to expire at the end of this year, leaving those receiving benefits from the program without coverage.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett opted out of expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, instead expanding coverage through a program called Healthy PA, which will use federal money to subsidize private insurance plans for some of the state’s low-income residents.

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Corbett also reformed the state’s Medicaid plans offered by slashing benefits.

Many of the women receiving coverage through SelectPlan will likely be eligible for subsidies through Healthy PA, and those who aren’t will need to apply for private insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance exchanges.

Advocacy groups in the state are asking the state Department of Public Welfare to automatically transition SelectPlan recipients who are eligible for Healthy PA into the new system, so that there is no gap in their coverage.

For now, women will have to apply for new coverage after their benefits expire in January.

The fate of Healthy PA is also unclear, as Democrat Tom Wolf vies for Corbett’s governor’s seat. Wolf has said he will expand Medicaid eligibility, though if he were to win the election, the Healthy PA program would already be well underway.

Wolf has maintained a comfortable lead in the polls.