Pennsylvania Republican Pushes For Medicaid Expansion

State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) called Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion “absolutely the right thing for Pennsylvania” and began pushing for it last week after receiving thousands of dollars in 2013 campaign contributions from organizations supporting expansion.

Last Wednesday, the House Human Services Committee approved House Bill 1492 (HB1492). HB1492 would immediately extend Medicaid eligibility to more than half-a-million currently uninsured Pennsylvanians. DiGirolamo is the chair of the Human Services Committee and is also the prime sponsor of HB1492.

The Human Services Committee approved the bill 12-11. Republican state Reps. DiGirolamo, Joseph Hackett (R-Delaware) and Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) voted with the committee Democrats to approve the bill. The bill now sits in the House Rules Committee.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has refused to expand Medicaid without significant reforms. Corbett did, however, propose a plan to the federal government to accept the money they are offering for Medicaid expansion and instead use that money to enroll the uninsured in the federal health insurance exchange. DiGirolamo has said when, or if, that plan is approved, the people who were placed on Medicaid under HB1492 would then shift to private insurance under the governor’s plan.

DiGirolamo claims his plan will save the state money and create jobs.

In reality, Medicaid costs already consume 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s General Fund. If Pennsylvania were to expand Medicaid it would ad $2 billion in additional state taxes over the next decade.

It’s worth nothing that DiGirolamo received $8,000 in campaign contributions in 2013 from several different healthcare organizations that would most likely benefit from the expansion of Medicaid.

The Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society’s Political Action Committee (PAC), Ortho PAC, gave DiGirolamo $2,500 in 2013. Its national affiliate the American Association of Orthopaedic has called the expansion of Medicaid in other states — such as Arizona — “a huge victory.”

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) states on its website, “An important advocacy priority for HAP is to strengthen Pennsylvania’s Medicaid population by providing insurance coverage for low-income, non-elderly, working Pennsylvanians and their families.” Its PAC — HAPAC — gave DiGirolamo $500 in 2013.

Additionally, DiGirolamo is consistently pro-union and actively works to defend union positions. DiGirolamo even runs the Good Jobs PAC, which financially supports left-leaning, pro-union Republicans.

He received $500 from the Pennsylvania Social Services Union Local 668 in 2013. PSSU Local 668, in partnership with other unions across the state, has been a staunch supporter of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.

DiGirolamo has also fiercely opposed “paycheck protection” legislation, which would force government unions to collect their own union dues, and has been a strong voice in support of an extraction tax on natural gas drillers.