Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 890, which expands the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) Program. This legislation creates a new category within the MAWD program called “Worker with Job Success.” This new category would help people who are already on MAWD stay on MAWD even if their income goes above the current limit of 250% of the federal poverty level. Individuals in this new category would also pay a higher premium (generally 7.5 percent, compared to the standard MAWD premium of 5 percent).
Senator Robert Mensch is the bill’s prime sponsor and initially introduced this legislation last year. The passage of the Senate Bill moves Pennsylvania forward in its support of working people with disabilities. If this legislation passes the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and is signed by the Governor, people with disabilities will be able to pursue job promotions and seek new work where they could earn a higher salary without the fear of losing important benefits they rely on for their health and independence.
Currently, people with disabilities often limit how much they work or turn down raises or promotions in order to keep their earnings under the limit needed to keep their Medicaid benefits- and often their home and community-based services as well. While employer health insurance can provide medical coverage, it does not cover home and community-based services such as Personal Assistance Services or ongoing nursing that can be essential for people with disabilities to work.
The legislation has been referred to the Pennsylvania State House of Representative’s Health Committee. We will update readers about the legislation’s progress in future newsletters. Readers who are interested in the efforts to expand MAWD can learn more at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s #IWantToWork Campaign.