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Politics & Government

Medicaid Expansion Up for Vote in PA Senate Committee

A vote is looming in a state Senate committee on legislation to potentially expand Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under the 2010 federal health care law.

“I cannot say enough about the importance for those individuals who don’t have health insurance, who are working every day, about a half a million people in Pennsylvania, how significant it could be for their lives, and for all of us,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-PA-7.)

A vote was expected during a Friday meeting of the Public Health and Welfare Committee. The actual amendment to be considered remains under wraps, and it has an uncertain fate in the House, where 33 Republicans are threatening to oppose any budget bill if it expands Medicaid.

Senate Republican and Democratic leaders have negotiated the amendment with Gov. Tom Corbett's office and are writing certain conditions into it to make it more amenable to Republicans.

Ultimately, Corbett would need to submit a plan that wins federal approval for the expansion. Hughes said expanding Medicaid coverage would have a tremendous impact on the commonwealth.

“Between 35,000 and 41,000 people will get new jobs that will be created in the next two years as a result of this program, and that’s across the state of Pennsylvania,” he said.

Hughes noted that if passed, the benefits wouldn’t be felt until at least June of 2014.