Governors voice Medicaid concerns to GOP lawmakers

Capitol Hill
Governors took to Capitol Hill to huddle with Republican lawmakers about what their ACA repeal plans mean for Medicaid expansion.

A group of governors met with congressional leaders on Thursday to express their mounting concerns about the consequences of an Affordable Care Act repeal—particularly for those who have benefited from Medicaid expansion.

The closed-door meeting included several Republican state leaders, who despite generally opposing the ACA have accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility and are wary of rolling back such coverage expansions.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for example, said after the meeting that the data show his state’s Healthy Michigan program “had a lot of success, both in terms of healthier behaviors and better outcomes helping people,” according to The Hill.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another Republican who attended the meeting, suggested that those who gained coverage under Medicaid expansion could instead be given either premium subsidies or tax credits to help them buy private health insurance, Reuters reports.

But Synder and Kasich have been among the more vocal governors in support of Medicaid expansion, with Kasich crediting the program for helping fund the fight against opioid abuse that is ravaging his state.

Hospitals in states that have chosen to expand Medicaid eligibility have seen reductions in their uncompensated care costs, leading some in the healthcare industry to worry about what will happen under an ACA repeal. In addition, 15.7 million more people now have Medicaid coverage than before the ACA’s major coverage provisions took effect.

Speaking after the meeting, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, expressed willingness to find a way to accommodate the governors’ concerns, according to Bloomberg. Such a strategy may include an approach that takes into account state-by-state differences, added Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “If there’s one word that came up most, it’s flexibility,” he said.

Not all Republican governors whose states have expanded Medicaid want to keep it, however. Both Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Matt Bevin of Kentucky say they support a full ACA repeal, Bloomberg notes.