The issue of a possible Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania could be cleared up in days.

 

Gov. Tom Corbett intends to meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the matter Tuesday.

On the eve of that meeting, even state Senate Democrats, the Legislature's loudest champions of expanding Medicaid, are easing off their criticism of the governor's reluctance to add hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to the government-run health insurance program.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says it's because his caucus sees the value in getting a few questions answered by Sebelius.

"I think, to be fair, we should wait at least 'til the governor has his meeting with the secretary," Costa said. "Our hope is that the administration comes along willingly."

The overarching question from the Corbett administration's perspective is whether the commonwealth will incur hundreds of millions of dollars in costs that the federal government won't cover.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania released a report last week touting the benefits of expansion as a way to provide preventive health care and reduce future health-care costs for the state.

But hospitals aren't considered impartial observers.

A recent study by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds hospitals stand to gain revenue as privately covered patients drop off and Medicaid enrollment increases.