Share This Page

3 top employees out at Pa. public welfare agency

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has terminated three top employees of the Department of Public Welfare several weeks after the departure of the agency's secretary, who was an advocate for welfare austerity measures and opposed an expansion of Medicaid to extend taxpayer-paid health care to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians.

A department spokeswoman, Carey Miller, declined Monday to say why the men lost their jobs, calling it a personnel matter.

Terminated were Philip Abromats, the executive director of audits and regulatory affairs, and special assistants Erik Randolph and Ron Semerjian. Former Secretary Gary Alexander's last day was Feb. 15.

Abromats said in an interview that he was fired without notice on Friday and not told why. Randolph was fired on Friday as well, and Semerjian was fired on Monday, according to the Corbett administration.

Abromats and the other two men had been closely associated either personally with Alexander or with the policies he had advanced, Abromats said.

The terminations occur as Corbett is under pressure to do something about health care, as more than half the nation's governors join the Medicaid expansion under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, consider it or look for alternatives.

Alexander, a Rhode Island resident, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by email on Monday.

He oversaw the elimination of a cash program for certain disabled adults, the tightening of eligibility rules for food stamps and an effort to root out waste in Medicaid that advocates for the poor say resulted in tens of thousands of eligible adults and children getting kicked out of the program.

Alexander had opposed an expansion of Medicaid, and Corbett has opposed it up until now as well, although he is expected to meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the coming weeks.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, noted Monday that nearly every other closely contested state in the November election that has a Republican governor is embracing the Medicaid expansion.

“Just about every swing-state Republican governor has bought into the issue, and ... Pennsylvania is now an outlier in this conversation,” Hughes said.

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.