Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced that the state had worked out an alternative Medicaid expansion plan with the federal government, bringing 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians to the Medicaid rolls.
According to numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 281,000 of those people were falling into what’s known as the “coverage gap.” All state Medicaid programs generally cover some low-income adult populations with certain stipulations – for example, those with disabilities or single mothers. Under the original terms of the Affordable Care Act, states would “expand Medicaid eligibility” to all low-income adults earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level (roughly $15,500). In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA, states no longer were obligated to expand Medicaid eligibility. These people fall in the gap, they don’t qualify for a non-expanded Medicaid but also don’t get subsidies for purchasing insurance on their own since they don’t make more than the federal poverty level either. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 4.5 million people across the country fall into this coverage gap.
Currently, 23 states aren’t expanding Medicaid – but there are rumblings that a few more may follow in Pennsylvania’s footsteps.