HARRISBURG -- The House of Representatives on Monday stripped from a budget-related bill a proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility, returning the legislation to a Senate that had easily approved the health care provision.
It was unclear how the Senate would address the change. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said Senate Republican leaders had told him they would agree to send the amended bill -- without a provision for Medicaid expansion -- to Gov. Tom Corbett.
"We had made it clear that we would have to amend that language out and send it back over for concurrence," Mr. Turzai said.
The Senate proposal would have required the state to apply by Oct. 1 to broaden Medicaid eligibility requirements under the federal health care law while calling for reforms such as job-search requirements and an ability to modify the program's benefit packages.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, would not directly say if leaders in that chamber had agreed to send the bill to Mr. Corbett without the Medicaid provision, which they had approved 40-10, with 17 Republicans joining 23 Democrats.
"After the House completes its work on all of the remaining budget-related bills, we will review our options and make a determination on how to best proceed," spokesman Erik Arneson said in an email.
The Senate will not return to the Capitol today but might Wednesday, he said.
Senate Democrats had applauded the inclusion of the Medicaid language in a broad welfare-related bill, and their leaders reacted strongly to Mr. Turzai's remarks. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and Sen. Vince Hughes of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee, said in a statement that their Republican colleagues had been partners in creating a proposal that would be acceptable to the House and Mr. Corbett.
"We do not believe Senate Republicans would be part of a fraud on the people of Pennsylvania, offering them hope for Medicaid expansion [and] then pulling the rug out from underneath them," they said. "We had no indication and do not believe there was an unsavory backroom deal -- as described by Rep. Turzai -- to eliminate the Medicaid expansion provisions from the Welfare Code."
Mr. Corbett has said for months that he would not agree to broaden Medicaid eligibility unless the federal government allows the state to make changes to its program. He has not publicly said if he would accept the Senate proposal if it reached his desk. But Mr. Turzai said the governor had said privately he would veto the language.
Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Mr. Corbett, said Monday the administration had concerns about the timeline given for expansion.
"That bill as it stood did mandate the state to expand," she said. "I think that was one of the main concerns. We still want to be able to work with the federal government to be able to work toward our reform proposals."
House Republicans removed the Medicaid proposal in committee and then agreed on the floor to send the amended bill on to the Senate. Mr. Turzai said members believed the governor should be given room to negotiate with the Obama administration and that the proposal did not belong in legislation related to the state budget.