State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Medicaid expansion hangs in balance of remaining budget bills

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 1, 2013 2:18 PM

Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

The fate of proposed legislation to compel the governor to accept a Medicaid expansion remains unclear.

In committee, House Republicans removed the expansion language from a key budget-related bill, the welfare code, already passed by the Senate.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said his caucus doesn't support the provision, in part, because the governor is still in talks with federal officials to try to make any expansion contingent on program reforms and cost controls.

"It's premature, a, and b, that it's usurping he governor's and the executive branch's responsibilities," said Turzai. He said he's been told by Senate leaders they will vote for the measure even without Medicaid expansion included.

"I was with other the other leaders and the governor that [the welfare code] would be put on concurrence, that [it] would be concurred," said Turzai.

But Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said his caucus may not be ready to drop Medicaid expansion, which, as an amendment to the welfare code, passed on a broadly bipartisan 40-10 vote.
"After the House completes its work on all of the remaining budget-related bills, we will review our options and make a determination on how to best proceed," said Arneson.
Many House Republicans have voiced their opposition to Medicaid expansion. It was amended into an omnibus budget-related measure that included many items with bipartisan appeal.

Turzai said his members object to the Senate's attempt to advance the Medicaid issue in such a way.

"You should send that over in a separate vehicle so that each chamber can have the opportunity to debate it," said Turzai. "You don't try to force that kind of an issue in a budget bill. It's not appropriate. That should be a separate bill with a separate debate."

Democratic House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, whose caucus supports expansion, said he's not buying Turzai's argument.

"It's just an excuse," Dermody said. "It's a made-up excuse to avoid the issue."


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