State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Lawmakers urge final answer on Medicaid expansion

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 4, 2013 6:48 PM
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Some state lawmakers are prodding the governor to announce a final decision on whether he’ll agree to expand Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program for the poor.

Gov. Corbett’s office wouldn’t comment on whether the budget address will include a final decision on whether to expand Medicaid, but Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said Monday he doesn’t think such an announcement is likely.

“We’re still trying to get more information from the federal government over the full costs and reimbursement and terms of expansion,” he said.

Different groups produce different numbers as far as how many additional Pennsylvanians would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion and what the state’s own costs would be.

House Republicans are urging Corbett to reject expansion, saying it would mean additional state costs.

Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield) said the funding promised by the federal government with an expansion of Medicaid comes with additional regulations.

“The most serious responsibility we have as legislators is to be good, responsible fiscal stewards of the hard-earned tax money of our constituents that we’ve been asked to manage in a responsible way and as we’re set to begin the budget process tomorrow with the governor’s budget address, this is going to be on the top of our minds,” Gabler said.

Senate Democrats are in favor of Medicaid expansion, arguing it will insure the state’s neediest residents and grow jobs in the health care sector.

Sen. Vincent Hughes, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the trepidation about expanding Medicaid is predicated not on sound fiscal analysis, but on ideology.

“This is $4 billion a year that is coming to the state,” he said Monday. “You don’t have to put up any money for it, at least not for the first three years. All right?”

The federal government would cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, if expansion begins in 2014. After three years, the federal match would gradually reduce to cover 90 percent of the expansion’s costs.

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