Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. Senate Prepares for Medicaid Vote Gop Setting Conditions for Expansion in State under Federal Law

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. Senate Prepares for Medicaid Vote Gop Setting Conditions for Expansion in State under Federal Law

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- Senate Republicans are working toward a vote next week on a measure that, upon certain conditions, would expand Medicaid eligibility in Pennsylvania under the federal health care law.

Such a proposal faces a more difficult path in the House, where a spokesman for the Republican majority said there are no plans to bring Medicaid expansion to a vote.

But a spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett said it appeared the Senate Republicans are considering changes to the Medicaid program similar to those the administration has requested during talks with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Corbett has said for months that he will not agree to expand Medicaid eligibility unless the federal government allows Pennsylvania to make changes to its program. His staff has given examples such as allowing the state to require job training or copayments from recipients.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said in an interview Friday that Senate Republicans have been working for some time on a plan to expand eligibility for Medicaid health coverage, provided that certain conditions are met.

Those conditions have not been finalized, he said, but he gave the example of requiring the continuation of coverage under the state Children's Health Insurance Program. Corbett administration officials have said some children covered under the CHIP program could be moved by the law into Medicaid.

"It's going to be a Republican-formulated plan," Mr. Scarnati said. "Just straight Medicaid expansion doesn't entice us. But if we're able to do it with conditions, then that's something we're willing to look at."

"We have the responsibility to govern," he said. "Whether we like it or not, this is something before us, and we need to take a serious look at it with our budget."

Senate Republicans are having conversations aimed at reaching a proposal that most or all of the caucus can support, said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R- Delaware.

He said Mr. Pileggi expects a vote of some kind next week.

Corbett administration officials describe their conversations with federal officials over Medicaid expansion as starting on their side with requests to change the state's existing program. …

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