Bev Mackereth

The Corbett administration has made its alternative proposal to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion available to the public.

It’s one step closer to receiving federal review of a plan that would allow hundreds of thousands of people to enroll in private health insurance plans subsidized with federal funds.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Lost paperwork, benefit delays, being hung up on or treated rudely – those are just some of the problems faced by some residents of Allegheny County as they try to navigate through the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for either food assistance or health benefits. On Wednesday, Just Harvest, an agency which helps connect people to services, held a meeting with DPW Secretary Beverly Mackareth and concerned residents who outlined problems they’ve had and some of what they’d like to see going forward.

If there’s any expansion at all to move hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians onto the Medicaid rolls, it’ll have to be custom-made for the commonwealth.

Department of Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth says her staff is looking at how other states have made the expansion a partly public-private partnership – sending people to buy health care insurance from the federally mandated exchange and using federal dollars to pay for it.

Other things, she says, require more negotiation.

A new study finds expanding Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania would yield billions of dollars in federal funding and result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional state tax revenue over the next eight years.

The Independent Fiscal Office report says the expansion would mean big cost-savings for the commonwealth — due largely to the number of people whose medical coverage would be picked up by the feds.

But baked into the study are several assumptions necessary for completing a fiscal analysis, said IFO director Matthew Knittel.

The head of the state Department of Public Welfare is sounding an optimistic note about a possible Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.

Acting DPW secretary Bev Mackereth said she’s following up with federal officials about the topic of adding hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to the government-run health insurance program.

She said federal officials have been forthcoming with information to the best of their ability.