Ahead of a House session to wrap up budgeting loose ends, the House Rules Committee put an end to the debate on Medicaid expansion in the legislature – at least until the fall.
Update: The full House passed the Medicaid-free version of the underlying bill.
The Rules Committee, chaired by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) voted to remove language forcing Governor Tom Corbett to create a Medicaid expansion plan. It went down on a party-line vote.
They also stopped a proposed name change in the same welfare code bill that would have switched the “Department of Public Welfare” to the “Department of Human Services.”
It means that state Senators must return to Harrisburg to vote on a revised final package.
House Republicans have consistently been opposed to Medicaid expansion, an option which was created by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). States like Pa. could opt-in to expand the health program for low income individuals in exchange for federal subsidies.
Gov. Tom Corbett has been negotiating with the Obama administration to seek special concessions in exchange for a Pa. opt-in, and spoke out against action by the legislature.
In a memo made public last Friday, 33 members pledged not to vote for the budget if it contained Medicaid provisions. GOP leadership managed to avoid a showdown by splitting the expansion issue into a separate vote.
Had expansion made it to a vote on the House floor, Democrats would have needed just 10 Republicans to join to pass it.
The Senate passed an updated version of the state’s welfare code, including expansion, by a wide 40 to 10 margin on Sunday which proponents lauded as a major victory.
“Today’s vote was a major step forward for providing health insurance to 500,000 working adults,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila).
Now that expansion has been stricken from the Welfare code bill it will still need to go before the House and then back to the Senate for concurrence. It is possible that Senators could put the expansion language back in the bill, but with no known leverage to change the minds of the Republicans on the House Rules Committee, it is highly doubtful that they will continue to push for Medicaid expansion.