Some 230,000 able-bodied adults will be dropped from Pennsylvania's Medicaid program under a welfare reform bill passed by the state General Assembly last week.
Voting 26-23 in the Senate and 103-93 in the House, lawmakers approved the compromise reform package, which was heartily endorsed by Gov. Tom Ridge.
The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania said it fought vigorously to block the cuts to Medical Assistance, the state's Medicaid program. HAP estimates the cuts will cost hospitals about $275 million.
In proposing welfare reform earlier this year, Ridge said the state's Medical Assistance spending had gotten out of hand, rising 134% in the past 10 years. Ridge said the House-Senate compromise will save taxpayers $210 million next year, achieved in part through a work requirement imposed on adults between the ages of 21 and 59 who do not have dependent children. To retain healthcare coverage, they must work more than 100 hours a month.
But Dave Myers, the hospital association's vice president for healthcare finance and research, predicted many welfare recipients will not be able to obtain healthcare insurance through work because of pre-existing health conditions. They will continue receiving hospital care, but hospitals will not be compensated for it, he said.
In a report released last month, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council said hospitals in the state provided $85.5 million in charity care in 1994, representing 0.6% of their total operating expenses (April 29, p. 58).