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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

New Report Reveals Human Face of Pennsylvania's Medicaid Program

Newly Launched Pennsylvania Medicaid Policy Center to Provide Non-Partisan Data and Research on Program

PITTSBURGH, March 14, 2007 The non-partisan Pennsylvania Medicaid Policy Center (PMPC) released its Faces of the Pennsylvania Medicaid Program report today. The report is an easy-to-understand and comprehensive look at the structure and reach of the Medicaid program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With rising health care costs increasing Medicaid's role in Pennsylvania's health care landscape, this report makes the intricacies of the Medicaid program more accessible to stakeholders and policymakers by providing relevant data, graphs and charts, and cutting through the layers of complex legislative language.

Millions of people rely on Medicaid across the nation. In Pennsylvania alone, about 15 percent of the population is enrolled in this health care program, said Judith R. Lave, Ph.D., PMPC director and chair of the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health's (GSPH) department of health policy and management. Not only will this report, and the work of the PMPC going forward, ensure policymakers and stakeholders are more informed as they debate critical issues about this programs future, but it also will help regular Pennsylvanians gain a greater understanding of Medicaid's scope and breadth.

Faces of the Pennsylvania Medicaid Program provides key national and state data on Medicaid compiled from multiple sources, including the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. It also includes a county-by-county look at the number and type of people covered as well as quotes from some of those people describing their experiences with Medicaid.

The PMPC Web site serves as a clearinghouse for Pennsylvania Medicaid information, including publications and research, statewide and county data and relevant links. Faces is the first of many publications that will be published by the PMPC, which was recently established at GSPH with support from private nonprofits and foundations as an independent source of information and analysis about Pennsylvania Medical Assistance. The PMPC, thus, will play an important role in informing policy discussions about the role of Medicaid in providing health care in Pennsylvania.

Our hope is that anyone with a question about the Pennsylvania Medicaid program will visit our Web site whenever they need more in-depth information about the program or are considering policies that affect it, explained Dr. Lave.

Medicaid is a federal/state health insurance program that serves the nations most vulnerable citizens, such as children, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities and seniors. It also fills in some of the gaps in the health care financing system and pays for medical and long-term care for eligible low-income American citizens and legal immigrants. In 2006, there were 1,833,769 Medicaid recipients in Pennsylvania in the average month. The total cost of the program last year was $16.6 billion.

Since Medicaid is partially funded and administered by each state, the structure and reach of the program differs widely. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid-covered health care is available through about 68,000 providers, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, physicians and dentists.

Children represent the largest proportion of those enrolled in Pennsylvania's Medical Assistance with approximately one-third of children in the Commonwealth covered. However, a look at the state on a county-by-county basis provides a more nuanced picture, with the proportion of children covered in the different counties ranging from 12.3 percent to 63 percent in 2006. Although children and their families represent 61 percent of all Medicaid recipients, they account for just 24 percent of total expenditures. It is the elderly (over 65 years old) who account for the largest share of Medicaid costs just over a third.

Support for the PMPC comes from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, the North Penn Community Health Foundation and the Brandywine Health and Wellness Foundation.

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks third among schools of public health in NIH funding received. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women's health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. For more information about GSPH, visit the GSPH Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

 

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