State House Sound Bites

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

Medicaid push may go as far as the House

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 26, 2013 10:30 PM
Harrisburg Capitol building with fountain

An effort in the state Legislature to push the issue of Medicaid expansion may be picking up steam.

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have planned for at least a week now to include language to compel the expansion in a piece of welfare legislation that must accompany the state budget.

Such a move would force House members to deal with the issue. Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), a supporter of Medicaid expansion, said he canceled a Wednesday committee vote on a standalone proposal to compel the expansion because he's looking to see how the Senate fares with the welfare bill as a vehicle.

"That would seem to be the easiest way to get this done right now," DiGirolamo said. He called the expansion a "toxic issue, politically."

Democrats have been loudly urging on the expansion for months, while Republicans have been hesitant to break with Gov. Corbett on the issue. The governor remains, at the moment, opposed to expansion. Members of his administration have said they want to see reforms to Medicaid, and that they are in talks with federal officials, holding out for assurances that expansion wouldn't cost the state money.

On Tuesday, House Republicans filled a stage to show their opposition to bringing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians onto the Medicaid rolls.

House Speaker Sam Smith said he's "certain there would be a lot of interest" among GOP members to strips any budget-related bill of its Medicaid expansion parts. But he's less sure that his caucus would have the votes to do it.

"I would say that that hasn't been resolved yet," Smith said.

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