.

Democrats Push Gov. Corbett on Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid expansion continues to hang over Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and budget-making lawmakers.

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – Democratic leaders in the General Assembly say Gov. Tom Corbett has delayed long enough on a decision about expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania.

And if the governor won’t make a decision, they are ready to force his hand.

“If Gov. Corbett is unwilling to do the right thing, my colleagues in the Senate must send a clear message that this is unacceptable. It’s time for a vote on Medicaid expansion,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, on Tuesday.

Hughes has filed a resolution to force the state Senate to vote on Medicaid expansion. If a majority of senators support the resolution, a proposal to force the state to accept the expansion would be busted out of committee and brought immediately to the floor for a full vote.

Whether he will win support for it is questionable – Republicans hold a 27-23 edge in the state Senate, but some members of the GOP may support the proposal.

Some top Republicans seem to be growing weary of the governor’s maybe-maybe not approach to the issue. Last week,Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester, said the “practical deadline” for a decision on the Medicaid expansion has arrived.

Christine Cronkright, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said Wednesday that no decision has been made and there is no timetable for one.

Corbett’s main concern, according to Cronkright, is that children currently enrolled in Pennsylvania’s CHIP program, which provides health coverage for children in poor families, would be forced into Medicaid as a result of the expansion.

“Moving these children into Medicaid will disrupt their continuing care and result in material changes in their choice of health care provider,” Cronkwright wrote in an email. “We believe these children should remain in CHIP to avoid unnecessary disruptions and costs.”

But Democrats in the state House support Hughes’ effort and turned up the pressure on Corbett Wednesday.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, said not accepting the Medicaid expansion would cost hospitals and other health care providers because federal subsidies for those who take a high percentage of Medicaid patients is set to phase out after the expansion begins next year.

“Not implementing the affordable care act is not just businesses as usual,” he said. “It doesn’t make economic sense and it certainly doesn’t make ethical sense.”

Some speculate that Corbett is holding out on Medicaid to use the issue as a bargaining chip in upcoming budgetary discussions – perhaps to leverage Democratic support for his top goals, like privatizing the state liquor stores or overhauling the state pension systems.

Frankel said Wednesday he was not interested in making such a deal, particularly if it meant Democrats would have to support “bad ideas” like privatization or pension reforms.

“I think Medicaid should stand on its own,” he said.

Whichever way the state goes, the decision will play a big part in state budget – not only this year but for years to come.

An analysis by the state Independent Fiscal Office, a number-crunching agency that plays a role similar to the federalCongressional Budget Office, concluded that the state would see $180 million in savings during the 12-13 fiscal year by expanding Medicaid.

Advocates for the expansion say it will provide insurance to some 600,000 Pennsylvanians and will boost the state’s economy by bringing in millions from the federal government.  They also point to a potential reduction in uncompensated care – the health services provided by hospitals to those who do not have insurance and cannot pay.

But opponents point out that most of the savings from Medicaid expansion are simply the result of moving patients from state-level programs to the federally-funded Medicaid, which is still an increasing burden for taxpayers, no matter how you slice it.

The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, but the Supreme Court ruled last year that states must opt-in to that part of the federal health reform law.  States across the country are divided over the expansion.

Contact Eric Boehm at Eric@PAIndependent.com and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Mike Shortall Sr May 17, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Hold your ground, Governor Corbett!! The last thing Pennsylvania needs to take on is the partially-funded Medicare obligation (funded to only 90% after the first years) that goes hand-in-hand with the Medicare expansion. Besides, opting out also pushes the requirement to develop those healthcare exchanges onto the Federal Government, keeping Pennsylvania out of that mess as well!
Kathleen May 17, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Mike is absolutely correct. The 20+ governors who have agreed to Medicaid expansion are opting for short term gain with long term pain.
Vote Dem May 17, 2013 at 09:38 PM
It's actually a great chance for the R's to leave their stamp on policy. We all lose when the main goal is to obstruct. I think Corbett is trying to beat the Texas rate of 25% uninsured. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and the bang for the buck PA would get by accepting the Medicare expansion is worth the sacrifice down the road. It is the law and our leaders should be trying to make it the best that it can be, not waste 50 mil on useless repeal measures.
Tony Simek May 17, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Maybe to fund Medicaid expansion the Dems could get some of the donations that Sebalius is asking for to prop up their signature failure Obamacare.
Mike Braun May 18, 2013 at 12:33 PM
The only gain would be a short jolt in the arm from the fed. This will bankrupt a state. Most states cannot pay obligations now. Why would this new entitlement be any different.
Bill Sams May 18, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Governor Corbett should stay out of Obama's Plan to shortchange each state with this Expansion. The Dems. will continue to hurt and tax America and they should Leave Pa. alone. Mike is so Right it will Bankrupt this State as well as all other States that have elected to go with Obama's Bad Judgment.
Lil Boysen May 18, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Stay Strong, Governor.
Liberty 1 May 18, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Even some dems are backing off obamacare. Too little too late. Watch for a huge push to replace Corbett just so they can use PA to go along with the financial collapse. It wouldn't surprise me to see him cave though - most republicans are spineless, always ready to make a deal that leaves the rest of us screwed.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »