Senate passes welfare bill without Medicaid expansion language
HARRISBURG — Senators on Wednesday backed off pushing legislation that would require Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.
The Republican-controlled Senate, by a vote of 27-22, approved a welfare bill the House passed with no expansion provisions.
The Senate on Sunday voted 40-10 to mandate expansion of Medicaid, a choice left to states under the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
But on Monday, the House, also under Republican control, sliced the Medicaid language out of the welfare bill, sent the bill back to the Senate and left the capital city.
That gave the Senate three choices: Agree with the House bill, reject it and set up negotiations with the House, or amend the bill and return it to the House for possible consideration in September.
Expanding Medicaid would provide health insurance to 500,000 to 800,000 low-income Pennsylvanians without insurance coverage.
“What they have right now is nothing,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia. “We (legislators) have insurance. Why can't they?”
Opponents of Medicaid expansion said it would saddle Pennsylvania taxpayers with enormous long-range costs when federal money is exhausted.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has straddled the issue, saying he is negotiating with federal Health and Human Services officials to give the state more flexibility in administering the program.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, said leaving the welfare code unfinished risked hundreds of millions of dollars by jeopardizing the hospital assessment. It is used to compensate hospitals and nursing homes to cover disparities in Medicaid payments.
Pileggi, who supports expansion, said he understands that Corbett would veto a bill that included Medicaid expansion.
Public Health and Welfare Committee Chair Pat Vance, R-Cumberland County, said she will sponsor legislation this fall to require Medicaid expansion.
The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to send the state's fiscal code bill back to the House after removing language legalizing “payday loans” in Pennsylvania. That language was a surprise, tucked into a bill with little notice.
The fiscal code is one of many bills implementing provisions of the state budget.
Payday loans carry high interest rates and are provided to borrowers for short terms.
Senators said the House would return Monday for a nonvoting session and could resolve it then.
Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, said there are no plans to vote that day. House leaders are looking into whether the issue can wait until September.
Having no fiscal code would not negate the state's ability to spend money, Pileggi said. Senate attorneys reviewed the issue and found no problem with spending.
Corbett officials disagreed.
Secretary of the Budget Charles Zogby said, “If left to languish, it will reduce this year's available funding by $235 million, potentially forcing cuts to higher education and will impact our ability to further fund Philadelphia schools.”
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Cost of Glade Run Lake dam to beat estimates
- Firefighters respond to two-alarm fire in McKeesport
- Springdale counters despair with ‘HOPE’
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Newsmaker: Lauren Bailey
- 87th St. Rita’s Festival scheduled in Connellsville
- Alle-Kiski farmers: Crops weather heavy rain
- Wildfires break out in Spain, Portugal