Pennsylvania Republicans Pressure Their Governor To Accept Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion

Now that the Republican governors in Ohio and New Jersey have both announced their support for expanding their states’ Medicaid programs under Obamacare — joining Democratic-led New York and Maryland — Pennsylvania is surrounded. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has resisted cooperating with this Obamacare provision so far. But now, members of his own party are beginning to pressure him to change his mind and join his neighbors:

Now the heat is coming from some of Corbett’s fellow Republicans in the state legislature.

State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R., Bucks) said Wednesday that he supported Medicaid expansion because it would provide health insurance for an estimated 700,000 Pennsylvanians, many in low-wage jobs.

“We should do everything possible to get this done for the state of Pennsylvania,” DiGirolamo, chairman of the Human Services Committee, said Wednesday. “Most of the people we are talking about are in the workforce making $10 to $12 an hour and have no health care.”

At the same time, a top Senate Republican said he had tasked his staff with examining Medicaid expansion costs and benefits in advance of budget negotiations in the spring. Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman (R., Centre) said that the Senate GOP caucus might take a position of its own on Medicaid expansion — he did not elaborate — and that the issue could figure into the budget process.

Partisan resistance to Obamacare is finally beginning to wane, as eight Republican leaders have now conceded that resisting health reform on a state level might not be worth the political statement. The GOP leaders who have agreed to carry out this provision of the health reform law have all acknowledged that it will make financial sense for their state budgets — since the federal government will finance the full cost of expansion for the first several years — as well as help ensure that thousands of low-income Americans receive the care they need.

And the pressure may be getting to Corbett. On Thursday, the day after Christie announced he supports Medicaid expansion in New Jersey, the Pennsylvania governor agreed to meet with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “discuss questions” about his options for expanding the Keystone State’s Medicaid program under Obamacare.