Using Medicaid to meet health needs during the recession

When the 111th Congress begins work in January, its first order of business will be passage of a stimulus package to help the economy get moving again. 

During economic downturns, the Medicaid program (called Medical Assistance in Pennsylvania) is one of the tools Congress can use to stimulate the economy while also helping average people hang on until better times return. 

More Pennsylvanians qualify for Medical Assistance

More Pennsylvanians - nearly 35,000 more - will qualify for free medical services this year through the Medical Asssistance Program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. 

The increase in enrollment is driven by the state's aging population and by growing unemployment. And it is creating severe budgetary problems for the state.  The current budget, adopted before the current economic crisis, called for spending $5.3 billion this year.  Now, with state revenue far below expectations, expenses related to Medical Assistance are rising.

Waiting list for adultBasic health insurance at record level

The number of Pennsylvania adults waiting for the opportunity to buy subsidized health insurance reached 145,800 in early December.  That total climbed by 15,000 during the month of November alone and is higher than at any point in the history of the program, which began in 2002 under then-Governor Tom Ridge.

Comprehensive health reform #1 domestic priority

A diverse assortment of statewide associations, service providers, and labor unions has come together to urge members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation "to make comprehensive health reform (the) top domestic priorioty and the one you ask your leaders to tackle first in the next Congress."

Discount drug cards available to Pennsylvanians

On December 19, Pennsylvania joined 21 other states where residents can secure discounts on prescription drugs via a free prescription drug card.

The discount cards are available to all Pennsylvanians regardless of income or age.  No written application is required.  To secure a card, simply visit and register there. 

Upon a customer's request, many pharmacies will process prescriptions through the Pennsylvania Drug Card, even if the customer does not present a drug card at the time of purchase.