Medicaid malpractice: House Republicans block expansion of coverage

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Republicans in Harrisburg are stringing along the poorest working people of Pennsylvania.

For months, Gov. Tom Corbett refused to consider an expansion of eligibility for Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. For a long time, he insisted that he needed more information from federal regulators. After meetings in Washington, he said he'd need to see programmatic changes before he could approve any expansion.

The prospects appeared to improve considerably on Sunday, when the state Senate voted 40-10 for a bill that would have required the state to apply by Oct. 1 to broaden eligibility requirements while calling for job-search requirements and some modifications of the program's benefits. There even were hints that Mr. Corbett might sign that version if it reached his desk.

But the next day, House Republicans shot down the measure on a 108-94 vote with only two Republicans in favor, Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County and John Taylor of Philadelphia. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods said it was rejected in part to give Mr. Corbett room to negotiate with the Obama administration.

That's just another way to string along the public.

Technically, the measure is not dead, because it returns to the Senate for action, where its fate is unknown. Momentum seems to be evaporating.

As many as 643,000 more adults and 237,000 children could have been covered by Medicaid, but now that's unlikely. The shame of it is that three independent studies have concluded that expanding Medicaid wouldn't just have been good for them, it would have been good for Pennsylvania as a whole, by bringing in more federal dollars, reducing state outlays for the program and expanding job opportunities.

Unfortunately, all that's likely now is more empty promises from House Republicans and Gov. Corbett.

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