State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Corbett's Medicaid plan taking friendly fire

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 17, 2013 3:41 PM

Photo by Pa. Legislature website

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to overhaul Medicaid and expand federally subsidized private health care is causing a bit of a rift in his own party.

Some pro-expansion Republicans in the Legislature have voiced support for the governor's plan - among them, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. The state Republican Party has also expressed its support.

But House GOP leaders haven't come down on either side of the Medicaid plan, and opposition is coming from one reliable critic: Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who is calling the governor's "HealthyPA" plan a political stunt.

"The governor is not going to get away with, at this point in his term, coming out and making this type of a proposal and thinking that it's going to save him in next year's elections," said Metcalfe at a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday. He has been the de facto leader of a smaller hard-right contingent within the House GOP that has opposed Medicaid expansion and new funding for transportation infrastructure.

So far, Metcalfe has been alone in his statements against the governor's plan - at least, among House Republicans. None joined him at the press conference, though Metcalfe said that was due to his desire to keep the focus on two Arkansas legislators who flew in yesterday to explain their concerns about a similar health care coverage expansion plan submitted by their state's governor and approved by the legislature there. They were brought to Harrisburg by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group.

Corbett's administration says his proposed changes to Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, and creation of federally-subsidized private health coverage options, do not require legislative approval - only a green light from federal officials.

Metcalfe said he thinks the Legislature should be given a chance to vote on the plan, which he insists is an expansion, even if Corbett doesn't use the same language.

"The governor can call it whatever he likes, he can say it's not Medicaid expansion, but at the end of the day, everybody who's honest with themselves has to admit that this is expanding welfare in Pennsylvania," Metcalfe said.

When asked about the governor's motivations, Metcalfe retrenched on his accusations that they're purely political.

"I don't think there's any other reason for him to do it," Metcalfe said. "Why in the world would a Republican governor move us in the direction of having one in four people on government-paid-for health insurance? To expand the welfare state to that extreme, to expand the welfare state, why would the governor do it unless he saw a benefit for himself in the future?"


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