Pa. lawmakers look to link Medicaid expansion to state bugdet

    Pennsylvania lawmakers effort in the state Legislature to push the issue of Medicaid expansion may be picking up steam. For at least a week now, a plan has been afoot in the state Senate to get the chamber on the record about a Medicaid expansion.


    Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate are planning to include language to compel the expansion in welfare legislation that must accompany the state budget.

    The move would force House members to deal with the issue. If the bill gets over to the GOP controlled House, Republicans may try to remove it.

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    Republican state Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County says he’s paying attention to the strategy the Senate is taking to get on the record about Medicaid expansion.

    “The best way to get this done is for the Senate to amend something into the welfare code bill. We have to have the welfare code bill as part of the budget. That’s got to be part of the budget so to me, that would seem to be the easiest way to get this done right now.” said DiGirolamo, a supporter of Medicaid expansion.

    This week, House Republicans filled a stage to show their opposition to expansion.

    But House Speaker Sam Smith says if the Senate sent over budget-related legislation that included language to compel a Medicaid expansion, House Republicans may try to remove it; though he adds he’s not sure if they have the votes.

    “I’m certain there would be a lot of interest to do that given the general position of our members . . . the concerns down the road, the costs,implications of that down the road, the fact that the federal government hasn’t done a real good job of holding up to its funding promises historically,” explained Smith.

    Governor Tom Corbett remains against the expansion, which would bring hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians onto the Medicaid rolls. He says he wants to see reforms to Medicaid, and is holding out for assurances from the federal government that expansion wouldn’t cost the state money.

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