| State

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Medicaid expansion tangles bill

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

How they voted

The Senate on Wednesday could vote again on Medicaid expansion.

Here's how Western Pennsylvania senators voted on the issue on Sunday:

• Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills: Yes

• Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park: Yes

• Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline: Yes

• Richard Kasunic, D-Fayette County: Yes

• Elder Vogel, R-Beaver County: Yes

• Tim Solobay, D-Washington County: Yes

• Donald White, R-Indiana County: No

• Kim Ward, R-Hempfield: No

• Scott Hutchinson, R-Venango and part of Butler counties: No

• Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Glenshaw (voted): No

Source: Tribune-Review

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pennsylvania

  1. Pennsylvania Senator Casey pushes for railroad bridge inspectors
  2. Va. trucker hit  Mega Millions jackpot in Pa.
  3. Feds accuse Philadelphia congressman Fattah of corruption
  4. Pa. man gets life in prison for girlfriend’s ‘obscene’ slaying
  5. Medical pot has advocate in Pennsylvania House
  6. Technology races ahead of Pennsylvania wiretap law