Harrisburg — Drivers leaving the Capitol Wednesday around 1pm would have noticed quite a jam. This was because protesters had taken to the street, marching down 2nd Street several blocks to the Governor’s Mansion.
This group was marching to try to push Tom Corbett to accept Medicaid expansion from the federal government. Comprised of non-profits, unions, and uninsured Pennsylvanians, they brought pickets and bull horns to make their voice heard.
“I have been in the ER twice for high blood pressure. My bills are over $40,000 and I have no way to pay that back. This never would have happened if I had insurance,” said Cheryl Jones, an SEIU home health care worker.
Upon arrival, protesters staged a “sick-in”. The group dropped to the ground writhing and crying out for help from the Governor.
While he did not respond, a spokeswoman for Corbett in the Department of Public Welfare was on hand to speak for the administration.
“I believe there is some fundamental confusion on what we are trying to do. We actually have the same goals. We just want to make sure we take all the steps necessary before jumping into anything,” said Anne Bale.
Kati Sipp, Executive Vice President of SEIU PA said she expected the expansion to pass through the Republican controlled House and Senate.
“We expect, if a vote is allowed to take place we will have the support of Senators Smucker, White and Erickson, who have been on the record supporting expansion,” she said.
She added that there are 50 members of the House who are dead set against expansion, but they may pick up supporters among Republicans in the southeast.
There is a, “group of moderates who will cross party lines. 12-15 who are approachable on the issue.”
Jennifer Stefano of PA’s American’s for Prosperity did not mince words about where lawmakers should stand on expansion.
“This is a huge problem for people on Medicaid and people who would be asked to pay for the program. Study after study shows health outcomes for Medicaid patients are worse than for the uninsured,” she said. “There is also not enough people pulling the wagon, no capacity to continue to broaden programs when it is already so poorly serving those in need.”
After congregating outside the Governor’s mansion the protesters marched on, back to lobby in the Capitol. Medicaid is expected to receive a vote from the Senate this week along with the budget negotiations.