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Hospital group reports increase in uninsured in Pennsylvania

3:15 am by | 0 Comments

1895 railroad map of Pennsylvania

More people in Pennsylvania went without health insurance last year -- a finding that should add urgency to proposals to reduce the state's number of uninsured, including Gov. Tom Corbett's alternative to expanding Medicaid, The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said in a study released on Tuesday.

The study's results "highlight the urgency of finding and implementing effective measures to reverse Pennsylvania's uninsured trends," said Andy Carter, the group's CEO.

The association represents 240 hospitals that would benefit financially from Corbett's alternative or from an expansion of the state's Medicaid program as called for by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Corbett's proposal, which he rolled out in mid-September, would use federal dollars earmarked for Medicaid expansion to buy private insurance for poor people. Corbett and officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees implementation of the Affordable Care Act, are in negotiations, Corbett spokeswoman Christine Cronkright said.

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Cronkright said the Corbett administration, which has opposed Medicaid expansion on fears that it could become a costly burden to taxpayers, is encouraged by the approval of a similar proposal by Arkansas late last month.

"We're hopeful that it's an indication that the Obama administration is willing to be flexible with Pennsylvania's plan as well," she said. "However, we're still working through the details with them."

Carter's statement stopped short of fully endorsing Corbett's plan. But he said the proposal fits with the association's broad goals of increasing access to health care for the state's uninsured.

"We look forward to continuing our constructive and productive dialogue with the governor, legislative leaders and key stakeholders in the coming weeks and months," Carter said.

The state's rate of uninsured increased to 12 percent in 2012, up from 10.8 percent in 2011, the association found. While lower than the national percentage of 15.4 percent last year, the nation's rate of uninsured was down last year compared with 2011.

Also among the study's findings was a decrease in the number of workers who receive health insurance from their employer, which have been struggling with rapidly rising costs for more than a decade.

In 2012, 59.5 percent of people with health insurance were covered by an employer's plans, down from 66.3 percent in 2003.

"We continue to see a dangerous erosion of employer-based coverage," Carter said.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or [email protected] ___

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