HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday that he and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have agreed to meet to discuss issues surrounding an expansion of Medicaid that would potentially extend taxpayer-paid health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians.
Corbett said he is still concerned about the cost of an expansion for Pennsylvania, and that the federal government cannot always be trusted to deliver on its funding promises to states.
"They promised to fund special education, as an example, a lot better than they do today," Corbett told reporters after appearing at an event in Harrisburg to recognize Black History Month.
He also said he was not convinced he should follow fellow Republicans like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Rick Scott who are supporting an expansion in their states.
"Each state has to look at it as to what it means and what they already provide," Corbett said. "For instance, a lot of states don't have what we have here in Pennsylvania with our (Children's Health Insurance) Program."
He also suggested that any expansion will need legislative approval as his administration works toward getting a budget approved for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
"We also have to determine where the funds are going to come from and how they're going to affect other programs," Corbett said. "That's why there's going to have to be discussions with legislative leaders as we work our way through the budget process."
Corbett spoke with Sebelius briefly while he was in Washington, D.C., earlier in the week for a National Governors Association meeting and they agreed to find a date to meet, he said.
Thus far, Corbett has declined to embrace the option of a Medicaid expansion, despite the federal government's offer to pay the lion's share of the cost. He has given a number of reasons why he will not pursue an expansion, at least for now, including the complaint that his aides still have many unanswered questions about the expansion.
A spokesman for Sebelius said Wednesday that the agency has been providing answers to the Corbett administration's questions and that they look forward to continuing the dialogue.