Beginning in 2011, the Law Center filed two requests under Pennsylvania’s new Right to Know Law for financial information about how much money the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) pays for each child enrolled in Medicaid for dental services in the Philadelphia area — a number that has a direct effect on whether or not children have access to the care they need.
Nearly two million children living in poverty in Florida face serious obstacles getting basic medical and dental care, even though federal Medicaid law requires states to provide prompt and effective treatment services. State Medicaid programs often fail to pay the doctors and dentists who see low income children enough to make it economically feasible for them to participate. For more than a decade, we have litigated to increase access to services for these kids.
In 2001, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program served the smallest percentage of low income children in the country. Only 40% of Oklahoma’s 500,000 children enrolled in Medicaid received a comprehensive medical examination each year, and only 10% received any dental care.
In 1999 the Law Center filed Westside Mothers v. Olsezewski, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of one million low-income children that challenged the state of Michigan’s Medicaid system, which paid doctors and dentists too little to ensure that they would be willing to treat patients on Medicaid.
In California in the late 1990s, over 180,000 people with disabilities relied on Medicaid to provide services, but this funding disparity seriously compromised the quality of care they received and left almost 2,000 people unnecessarily stuck in institutions. In 2000, the Law Center filed Sanchez v. Johnson, a class action lawsuit on behalf of seven individuals with developmental disabilities and six organizations.
In the early 1990s, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program effectively shut poor families out of essential medical and dental care.
The Affordable Care Act requires states to provide health care under Medicaid to all adults with incomes of 138% or less of the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court left it to each state to decide whether or not to cover these adults under Medicaid. In August of 2014 Pennsylvania and the federal government finally agreed upon an alternate plan known as “Healthy PA” to expand Medicaid. While we are pleased that Medicaid expansion is on its way to Pennsylvania’s working families starting January 1, 2015, we continue to advocate for full and equitable access to health insurance as the plan still falls short of providing full expansion, and imposes restrictions, including hefty premiums for some low-income families.