Medicaid expansion tangles bill
HARRISBURG — The Senate on Wednesday could again vote on expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania, a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has refused to embrace.
The Republican-controlled Senate on Sunday voted for language that approves the expansion with conditions aimed at tailoring the plan to Pennsylvania. The state House on Monday stripped the Medicaid expansion language from a Department of Public Welfare bill — and then recessed for summer after sending the welfare bill to the Senate.
The Senate returns to session for at least one day to consider the welfare bill and several other unfinished bills.
The Republican Caucus is reviewing options on Medicaid expansion, said spokesman Erik Arneson.
The Senate could agree with House changes and send the bill to Corbett or disagree and send the bill to a conference committee of House-Senate negotiators.
A third choice is to amend the bill and send it back to the House.
“We're not (in Harrisburg) till September,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods.
Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for Turzai, said having no welfare code, which lays out changes in welfare law, would affect state assessments or fees levied on hospitals. A portion of the $150 million assessment is returned to health care facilities to help cover disparities in what Medicaid pays.
The state budget, in that case, would not be balanced, and that could impact payments to state-related universities such as Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, Miskin said. Those universities are listed as “non-preferred” appropriations, meaning funding allocated after priority spending.
The law creating the assessment won approval in 2010 but needed reauthorization by Sunday, said Paula Bussard, of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
“It needs to be acted on before the Legislature adjourns for the summer,” said Bussard.
A failure to pass a welfare code bill could put millions of Pennsylvanians at risk, said Bev Mackereth, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare.
“It would mean the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Pennsylvania's health care system, including funding for hospitals and nursing homes,” she said.
Lawmakers on both sides of Medicaid expansion remain passionate about the issue.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, believes Medicaid expansion would “break the backs of taxpayers in Pennsylvania.”
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said studies show joining the expanded program would result in 35,000 jobs and $3 billion more per year from the federal government. There's a “moral obligation” to provide health care to more than a half-million people, he says.
Up to 800,000 low-income Pennsylvanians would get health coverage if the state agrees to the extension left optional for states as a result of a Supreme Court ruling last year on the health care law.
Political analysts are somewhat puzzled why 17 Republican senators voted for Medicaid expansion, while the House Republican Caucus shot it down.
Senators have larger, more diverse districts than House members, said Steve Peterson, a political science professor at Penn State's Harrisburg campus.
One reason for House GOP opposition is fear of creating more federally dependent programs for which money one day disappears, said Rep. Mike Reese, R-Mt. Pleasant. He views it as similar to stimulus money, which ended and “left state taxpayers picking up the tab,” Reese said.
“Members of the Senate (voting for it) are taking the long view that it will provide money for the state to spend down the road,” said Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University. “In the House, it's more of an ideological view.”
Some state legislatures and governors, even those with a conservative tilt, “ended up saying yes” after recounting the numbers, Peterson said.
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.
- Mother, grandparents of starved boy sentenced to prison
- Four veterinarians charged for doping race horses at Penn National
- Pa. police officer charged with homicide for shooting unarmed man in back
- Authorities investigate racist letter to Pa. state police pick Brown
- PSU frat members, victims aid in investigation
- Treasure of World War II posters comes to light at Grove City College
- Penn State frat KDR had warning about social media before posting lewd photos
- Murtha’s memory honored with namesake warship in Mississippi
- Denver Botanic Gardens boosts attendance
- Heat lamp for cats caused fatal Lawrence County fire
- Police: Some pictured on Penn State frat sites come forward