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Politics & Government

Lawmakers Say Time Nearly Up For Mulling Medicaid Expansion

Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle in the state Senate are noting the time is fast approaching to make a final decision about a potential expansion of Medicaid.

For months, the Corbett administration has insisted that the door is not closed to such a move.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi - not exactly a public cheerleader for the move - said last week the governor needs to decide soon whether he'll allow hundreds of thousands more Pennsylvanians to enroll in the program.

"If we were to do Medicaid expansion in this year's budget there's a tremendous amount of work to do in factoring that decision into the budget process and so... the practical deadline over that decision being made is fast approaching," Pileggi said.

"I mean, he's exactly right," said the chamber's Minority Leader Jay Costa. Senate Democrats have made expanding Medicaid their caucus's number one issue.

"We have to make that decision within the next couple of weeks," Costa said. "By the second week of June would be the outside period of time where that decision has to be made - at the very outside."

Lawmakers are working on the upcoming state budget now. Costa said if Medicaid rolls are going to grow in the next fiscal year, the work of identifying cost savings and making adjustments to the rest of the budget needs to begin shortly.

The state's Independent Fiscal Office says Pennsylvania could save hundreds of millions of dollars by opting in to the expanded Medicaid program. But the Corbett administration has said that's contingent on assumptions federal officials haven't yet confirmed.