Senate panel OKs conditions for Medicaid expansion
HARRISBURG — A Senate panel on Friday approved a bill establishing conditions for Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania, a program that would provide health insurance to more than 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians.
Opponents say the expansion will be too costly for state taxpayers in the start-up phase and long range as federal funding declines. Supporters say taxpayers and ratepayers are paying anyway to cover costs of uninsured people treated in hospital emergency rooms.
“While we welcome the opportunity to receive additional funding to provide coverage for those in need, we must ensure that we have the resources available for those already being served,” Public Health and Welfare Committee Chair Pat Vance, R-Cumberland County, said later. “While expanding health care coverage to as many people as possible is a worthwhile goal, we need flexibility in order to do so without breaking the bank.”
Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, voted against it.
“I am in complete disagreement with the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion is part of that,” Ward said. “The federal government, and not the state, is supposedly going to fund the approximately 700,000 new enrollees that will result from the expansion, but that money is still coming from the pockets of Pennsylvania taxpayers.”
The bill imposes conditions on any agreement between the state and federal government such as maximized use of commercial insurance, “reasonable” employment and job search requirements.
It keeps Pennsylvania's Childrens Health Insurance Program rather than switching those covered under CHIP to Medicaid.
States have the choice of expanding under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. About half of the states have told federal officials they're in. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has told federal Health and Human Services the state needs more flexibility. Aides say he is keeping his options open as he negotiates with HHS.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, told caucus leaders last week he would not run a Medicaid expansion bill.
However, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, attached the Medicaid amendment to the state's Welfare code bill, an essential ingredient to passing a state budget.
The constitution requires passage of a state budget by midnight Sunday.
“I am thrilled by this important first step,” said Cheryl Jones, a home healthcare worker from Erie without health insurance.
“It was a bipartisan effort, which sends a really strong message to Governor Corbett that this is what the people of the Commonwealth want – Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Elaijah Shepard, a daycare worker from Pittsburgh, said medicaid expansion would allow her to go to college by relieving the financial burden she feels when getting treated at the doctor.
“I've never been so fearful to go to the doctor's office,” she said. “I'm on my own, so that's why it's important to me -- I would have to go back to nothing — There is no hope and I can't live with that, not now.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Penn State football coach Franklin renews his plea for patience
- Former Mountaineer Bailey shot in head in Miami
- Putin sends air defense missiles to Syria to deter Turkey
- North Shore parking garage plan moves forward in Pittsburgh
- Cecil fire crews respond to 3 calls in 12 hours
- Occupying playoff spot on Thanksgiving good harbinger for Penguins
- Hempfield man fights off intruders
- H&M to open in Westmoreland Mall
- 2nd command officer at Allegheny County Jail punished