State Declines to Expand Medicaid At This Time

The Pennsylvania General Assembly ended up approving a state budget for FY 2013-14 that did not include a Medicaid expansion. The budget was signed into law by Governor Corbett on June 30th. As discussed in previous newsletters, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2012 made the expansion of Medicaid (to cover adults with income up to 138% FPL regardless of assets) optional for states. So far, about ½ of the states have chosen to expand Medicaid. Pennsylvania is not currently one of them.

Funding needs to be appropriated in order for Pennsylvania to expand Medicaid. Since this funding was not included in the final budget (and with the lack of support from Governor Corbett and certain legislative leaders at this time), it seems unlikely that Medicaid expansion could happen before July 2014 (if even then). Advocates supporting expansion were hopeful at the end of June when a Welfare Code bill passed in the Senate (HB 1075) in a 40-10 bipartisan vote that included language expanding Medicaid under certain conditions.
However, when that Welfare Code Bill went to the House, the Republican leadership removed the expansion language before the bill was brought to the floor for a vote stating their belief that Medicaid expansion was fiscally unsustainable. The Bill that then passed in the House included no provisions for expanding Medicaid and the Senate did not attempt to reinsert the language when the Bill came back to them for a final vote.

Advocates who support expansion will continue to push the Administration and legislators to pursue expansion and believe there is still an opportunity for Pennsylvania to expand Medicaid in 2014 or early 2015. The Governor continues to engage in discussions with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services over a possible Medicaid expansion at some point in the future.