Medicaid expansion teeters on the brink

The Medicaid drama continues in the Capitol.

A debate is underway at this hour, led by Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks) to put Medicaid expansion language, back in the welfare bill.

Senate approved language was stripped from a bill by House Republicans in a key committee this morning.

Supporters remain hopeful that the language could be introduced later today on the House floor.

The expected House action by GOP lawmakers opposed to Medicaid expansion came a day after the Senate 40-10 bipartisan vote approved language requiring the state to enter the Medicaid expansion by July 1, 2014.

House Majority leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said the Senate would concur.on the change.

But Senate Democrats and Republicans said not so fast.

"After the House completes its work on all of the remaining budget-related bills, we will review our options and make a determination on how to best proceed," said Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson in an email

Democratic leader Sen. Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) and the Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D., Phila.) the ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee, said the language, with certain conditions including small copays, was crafted with bipartisan support with a common goal of getting a bill to the governor.

“We do not believe Senate Republicans would be part of a fraud on the people of Pennsylvania; offering them hope for Medicaid expansion then pulling the rug out from underneath them," Costa and Hughes said.“We had no indication and do not believe there was an unsavory backroom deal – as described by Rep. Turzai -- to eliminate the Medicaid expansion provisions from the Welfare Code."

Opting into expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would cover as many as 600,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians. Hospitals and health care groups have voiced their support for the plan saying it will go a long way toward improving the health of the of many who do not have access to health care, reduce the costs of uncompensated care and bring jobs. 

Some conservative Republicans fear the federal government won't provide adequate funding and the state will have to make up the difference. Gov. Corbett has voiced similar objections but has continued to negotiate with federal officials to try to find an acceptable compromise.





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