More States To Expand Medicaid Now That Obamacare Remains Law

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More states will pursue expansion of Medicaid health benefits for poor Americans under the Affordable Care Act after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the law.

The American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare, would’ve rolled back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and put restrictions on states that tried to expand such coverage. But Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan Friday pulled the ACHA legislation Friday, making, “Obamacare the law of the land,” as he said.

At least two states– Kansas and North Carolina–are already working toward becoming the 32nd and 33rd states to expand Medicaid  under the ACA. They would join 31 states plus the District of Columbia that have taken advantage of generous federal funding available under the law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, according to the Advisory Board.

 And there may be even more states that will resurrect state legislative efforts to expand Medicaid. Before Trump was elected, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota were considering Medicaid expansion. But Trump’s election, along with Republican control of Congress, prompted these states to put on the brakes for Medicaid expansion when an ACA repeal looked likely. “The effort to expand Medicaid in Georgia just died,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Trump won the electoral college.

From 2014 through 2016, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion population is funded 100% with federal dollars. Beginning this year, states gradually have to pick up some costs, but the federal government still picks up 90% or more of Medicaid expansion through 2020. It was a better deal than before the ACA, when Medicaid programs were funded via a much less generous split between state and federal tax dollars.

With the federal funding still part of the ACA, Kansas lawmakers just last week were forging ahead and now have a hurdle lifted with the law in place for the “foreseeable” future, as Speaker Ryan said. A so-called “manager’s amendment” in Ryan’s failed ACHA bill took specific aim at Kansas and North Carolina, making the states “long shots” at expanding Medicaid until Friday’s failed Obamacare repeal.

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