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Feds' OK of Arkansas Medicaid plan gives hope to Corbett's Pennsylvania proposal

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — The government's approval for Arkansas to use Medicaid funding to buy private insurance for the poor gives Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's aides hope that the Department of Health and Human Services will approve his similar plan.

“We're encouraged by HHS' approval of Arkansas' plan and hope it's an indication that the federal government is willing to work more closely with states to develop solutions that work at the local level, versus a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett.

The agency last week approved Arkansas' request to implement the “private option” plan instead of expanding Medicaid enrollment. Corbett made his request two weeks ago.

Supporters of the 2010 Affordable Care Act point to Arkansas as a Republican-trending state implementing a key part of the law.

But Elizabeth Stelle, a policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, said Pennsylvania's proposal tries to promote accountability with “a work search requirement and co-payments on a sliding scale.”

Those factors could lead to hurdles for the plan, said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

The work requirement is one piece of the plan that aides continue to discuss with HHS, Cronkright said.

The Associated Press contributed. Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter.

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