Hughes pushing for Pa. Medicaid expansion with state Senate maneuver

    State Senate Democrats are trying to compel Pennsylvania to participate in a Medicaid expansion by using what’s called a discharge resolution.

    Senate staffers are at a loss to remember the last time this kind of maneuver was successful — it’s still easy enough for the majority party to avoid taking a vote on the measure in question.

    But that’s not stopping Philadelphia Democrat Vincent Hughes from trying a procedural move that could send his Medicaid expansion bill to the full Senate in late June.

    He says he’s tired of waiting for a committee to act on his bill.

    A vote to table is a vote against the issue,” says Hughes. “Either you’re for it or against it.”

    The Medicaid expansion issue has been handled gingerly by Senate Republicans — many of them are publicly deferring to the governor’s office, which is still trying to nail down the costs of potentially bringing hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians into Medicaid.

    Some say Hughes’ move here is less about forcing a vote, and more about having a reason to talk about the issue.

    The chairwoman of the relevant committee — the one Hughes accuses of inaction — says she’s never been asked to schedule the expansion proposal for a vote.

    Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland County, said Wednesday she was surprised by the move.

    “Anyone who wants a bill moved in committee usually says to the chairman, ‘Are you planning to move the bill? We request that you move the bill.’ But that’s just a minor technicality,” Vance said.

    The spokesman for the Senate Republicans says successful discharge resolutions are rare, because they’re easily handled by the majority party so a vote isn’t forced.

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