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Capitol's Health Care Hawks Waiting for Corbett-Sebelius Meeting

All eyes will be on the governor in the days following his April 2 tete-a-tete with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Ever since Gov. Corbett said he would go straight to the source to answer some of his remaining questions about a Medicaid expansion, the pressure mounting over the issue has subsided.

Even state Senate Democrats, the Legislature’s loudest champions of expanding Medicaid, are easing off their criticism of the governor’s reluctance to add hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to the government-run health insurance program.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said last week it’s because his caucus sees the value in getting more information from Sebelius.

“I think to be fair, we should wait at least ‘til the governor has his meeting with the secretary," said Costa. "Our hope is that the administration comes along willingly and they recognize and see the value of implementing this program.”

The overarching question, from the perspective of the Corbett administration as well as several state lawmakers, is whether the commonwealth will incur hundreds of millions of dollars in costs that the federal government won’t cover under a Medicaid expansion.

The move is supported by hospitals across the state. Last week, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania released a report indicating the expansion would grow the health care industry in the state enough to offset the costs.

But hospitals aren’t impartial observers in this arena. A recent study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds hospitals stand to gain revenue as privately-covered patients drop off and Medicaid enrollment increases.