Day 46- Medicaid at 50: State Highlight: Pennsylvania

Over the coming weeks this blog will highlight a key feature of Medicaid and the individual states that administer Medicaid and CHIP leading up the the program’s 50th anniversary (July 30th). Hopefully, you’ll learn some interesting facts about Medicaid and each of the 51 state programs.

Pennsylvania covers nearly 2,540,000 through their Medicaid and CHIP programs.

Did you know that almost half of the population of Pennsylvania lives in Appalachia? Yep, 52 of the 67 counties make up the Appalachian region.

I was perusing the 2002 edition of American Anthropologist a bit ago and found this really interesting article by Mary K. Anglin, Lessons from Appalachia in the 20th Century: Poverty, Power, and the “Grassroots”. There was an interesting quote about how little resources are available to Appalachia residents.

Yet stringent eligibility criteria for KTAP, including federal standards that allow no more than 60 months’ enrollment in what is now deemed “temporary assistance,”mean that many poor residents have few resources available to them other than medicaid, food stamps, and private charities where such exist.

It’s too simplistic to say that Appalachia is poor and needs Medicaid. Appalachia has changed dramatically since the implementation of the Medicaid program. The poverty rate exceeded 30% when the Medicaid program was enacted and is around 16% today. What has changed the most is that as the region transforms from a dependence on the coal industry, some communities are growing where others are in need of roads and basic infrastructure. The largest challenge is that the region is extremely diverse. This creates challenges to access to care. As Medicaid has expanded in the state, residents living in Appalachia, especially non-disabled adults, now have coverage but access is a challenge in many areas. The state and advocates face the challenges of working with individual and varied communities.

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