GOP lawmaker urges Pa. gov on Medicaid expansion
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker on Friday publicly urged Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to support an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, a sign that Corbett may be facing a split in his own party as several other Republican governors of heavily populated states embrace the expansion.
House Human Services Committee Chairman Gene DiGirolamo said in a statement that rejecting an offer of increased federal funding to expand Medicaid threatens hospital finances and ensures many low-income Pennsylvanians will miss out on primary health care.
DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, said he understands Corbett's present stance against going along with the expansion. But DiGirolamo also made a vigorous argument for accepting it.
"New jobs, employees of small businesses gaining health care coverage, new tax revenues based on federal monies, improved health care for our citizens, savings on emergency treatment and putting our federal tax dollars to work here in the state — these are the benefits of the Medicaid Expansion," DiGirolamo wrote.
Republican governors of three other heavily populated states, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, say they're going along with the expansion that begins in 2014.
Corbett first said two weeks ago that he would not take part in the expansion unless Pennsylvania gets more ability to shape Medicaid's insurance plans and make the program more cost effective.
Corbett's insurance commissioner, Michael Consedine, reiterated that position to senators Thursday during an Appropriations Committee hearing.
"We're not willing to build on a system that we think is broken," Consedine said.
Administration officials also complain that they are waiting for answers from the federal government to their questions about how the expansion would work.
In a separate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, added that the federal government cannot necessarily be trusted to follow through on its promises of delivering funding to states and that it will be difficult to afford the costs the administration foresees being associated with the expansion.
Democratic lawmakers say that the Corbett administration is overestimating the costs associated with the Medicaid expansion and that it would be a net tax benefit to the state.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature have made no public move to embrace the expansion, and conservative lawmakers have publicly opposed it.