Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion

Hughes Medicaid celebration
Senators celebrate Sunday’s vote

A bill requiring Governor Corbett to expand Medicaid has passed a floor vote in the Senate Sunday evening with bipartisan support.

The bill, an update to the state’s welfare code, won a wide 40 to 10 majority. It won the support of 17 of 27 Senate Republicans and all 23 Democrats.

“Today’s vote was a major step forward for providing health insurance to 500,000 working adults,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila), the measure’s loudest backer. “I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted for this legislation. We sent a clear message tonight that Pennsylvania should not be left out of Medicaid expansion.”

“The Governor and State House should follow suit and support expanding health insurance as quickly as possible.”

The Affordable Care Act allows states to receive large federal subsidies to expand Medicaid for low income individuals.

At his 10pm budget signing press conference though Corbett was dismissive of the idea that the bill would bring the possibly mandated expansion.

“There is not a bill on my desk… I am not gonna talk about anyone being forced into anything.”

With two remaining session days the House is set to take up the expansion bill passed to them from the Senate. There has been no minced words about what kind of hostile environment the House will be for such legislation.

House Republicans at a press conference last Tuesday voiced their opposition to Medicaid expansion.

“We’ve made it very, very clear expansion is off the table at this point,” said state Rep. Matthew Baker (R-Bradford)

Then in a memo made public Friday, 33 Republican lawmakers pledged to vote down the budget if a Medicaid expansion provision in included.

“We believe that we have a duty to stand with the taxpayers of Pennsylvania during the budget process and reject any inclusion or any element of this expansion that is part of this budget.”

Despite the budget having passed there is no doubt that this block will maintain their spirited opposition.

To pass the bill in the House though, Democrats will only need 10 Republicans to sign on – if GOP leadership willingly brings the measure to a vote.

Some already have. Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Montgomery) stated that he supports expansion and is optimistic that the needed 10 to 15 others will be too.

“I think there’s enough members of my caucus that want to get this done – on the Republican side – that I really think we have a good shot of our leadership bringing it up,” DiGirolamo said.

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