State House Sound Bites

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

First move for Medicaid expansion this fall from GOP corner

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 21, 2013 8:19 PM
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Democrats in the state Legislature have been the most vocal about wanting to open up the state's Medicaid program to hundreds of thousands of additional Pennsylvanians. But, the first attempt to push the issue this fall is coming from a Senate Republican.

The Senate GOP that orchestrated an effort to add Medicaid expansion language to a budget-related bill about two months ago. It was summarily removed when it went to the House, where Republicans voiced opposition to including a major health care initiative in an unrelated piece of legislation.

The governor also remains cool to the idea, repeating as recently as last month that his administration is still in negotiations with federal officials about a possible expansion.

Now, Republican Senator Pat Vance of Cumberland County is introducing a stand-alone measure to expand the Medicaid rolls - most costs of which will be covered by the federal government.

But she admits she's not sure anything has changed, nor is it clear which locus of opposition presents the bigger obstacle.

"I'm sure there are people in the House that remain supportive of this," said Vance, "and the governor is the leader, so if he would buy into this, perhaps it would make the path easier."

Nearly a third of House Republicans oppose Medicaid expansion without certain reforms. Vance has pointed to the number of conditions built into the measure. But some senators have pointed out the proposal doesn't allow the governor to forgo an expansion if those conditions aren't met.

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