State House Sound Bites

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

No progress on Medicaid after meeting, Corbett says

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Apr 3, 2013 5:35 PM
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Zero, nada, zilch: that’s how many questions Gov. Corbett said his staff was able to put to bed after his meeting with federal officials on a possible expansion of the state’s Medicaid rolls.

“There were no direct answers last night,” said Corbett. “We didn’t anticipate any direct answers last night.”

So, for the time being, the administration’s answer remains the same: it will not allow hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to enroll in Medicaid, as authorized under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The federal government has committed to front 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, but Gov. Corbett views such promises with skepticism. Nor is he keen on the idea of the state’s costs going up thereafter. Corbett said he thinks he was able to impress upon U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just how unique Pennsylvania’s situation is regarding the decision.

“When I told her 27 percent of our overall basic formula or basic budget is dedicated to Medicaid, I think she was a little surprised by the size of that number,” Corbett said.

Democratic state lawmakers have been pressuring the governor to agree to the expansion, saying it will be an economic boon to the commonwealth. But Corbett said he’s just trying to make sure the move wouldn’t lead to an unsustainable health care system.

“The dialogue on the political side, frankly, just distracts from being able to accomplish that goal,” said Corbett.

He added that he sees no deadline looming by which he must decide with any finality about a Medicaid expansion.

“If we don’t get it done in the next month or six weeks, maybe it’s two months, maybe it’s three months, maybe it’s into the next year,” said the governor. “And maybe we don’t do anything.”

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