The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 3, 2013

Medicaid expansion rejected

State Senate reverses itself days after giving approval

HARRISBURG — In a wood-paneled meeting room surrounded by oil paintings of lawmakers who had served before him, Sen. Richard Kasunic made an impassioned but futile plea for Medicaid expansion on Wednesday.

“Time and again we have the opportunity to do something good and we fail,” Kasunic, D-Dunbar, said in a meeting of the Senate rules committee. “We should challenge those who say, ‘No.’ We should dare (the governor) to veto it.”

His plea fell on deaf ears. The Senate on Wednesday voted 27-22 to concur with the House and move the Welfare Code absent the expansion timeline inserted into it by the Senate just three days earlier.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester, said that there will be time to fight about Medicaid when lawmakers return in the fall. For now, the House move to strip language about Medicaid expansion from the Welfare Code will stand.

There is just too much at stake to hold the Welfare Code hostage while lawmakers squabble over Medicaid expansion, Pileggi said.

“We are at an impasse” with the House and Gov. Tom Corbett, Pileggi said.

The Affordable Care Act would provide new federal funds to extend health care coverage under Medicaid to more than 500,000 working Pennsylvanians. It is a move that advocates say will save state taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade and create 40,000 new jobs. Opponents have questioned the wisdom of adding more people to Medicaid, a system that is already strained.

At the ceremony where he signed the budget, Corbett said that does not support expansion without significant reforms.

 Twenty-nine states have indicated they will expand Medicaid. Fifteen states are passing on expansion. With the Senate and the House at odds on the issue, Pennsylvania remains one of just six states that are still sitting on the fence.

The provisions originally added by the Senate essentially summarized many of the reforms the governor has publicly indicated he is seeking.

They include:

• Continued use of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, enacted in 1992 and provides health insurance to children and teens.

• Focus on reducing waste, fraud and abuse.

• Add employment and job search requirements for those physically able.

The amendment also noted Pennsylvania would abandon Medicaid expansion if the federal government stopped paying for it at the levels promised.

Pileggi said that because of the standoff within the Republican-controlled House, if the Senate didn’t concur with the House version of the Welfare Code, it would put “hundreds of millions” of dollars at risk.

It was a sentiment repeated by Welfare Secretary Beverley Mackereth before the Senate took up the issue on Wednesday.

“Failure of the General Assembly to pass a Welfare Code bill in a timely manner will put millions of Pennsylvanians at risk,” she said.

The Senate’s abrupt reversal was a victory for conservative lawmakers in the House who had vowed to prevent Medicaid expansion in the commonwealth.

Early Saturday, the Senate had voted 40-10 to include provisions spelling out how the state could expand Medicaid and setting a timeline for it.

“Just days ago, (those provisions) made enough sense to get 40 votes in the Senate,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia. “We were lauded across the country and it was one of the finest hours I’ve had as a senator.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads