Administration leaning on states to expand Medicaid

The Obama administration is calling out leaders in a variety of states that have refused to expand Medicaid coverage, claiming they are making a political statement at the expense of the health of its constituents, Politico reported.

President Barack Obama held a conference telephone call with supporters of Medicaid expansion in Florida and Louisiana last week, and then traveled to both states on unrelated business. However, he also took a swipe at the perceived obstinance of Louisiana lawmakers during a speech he made Friday in New Orleans.

"Even if you don't support the overall plan, let's at least go ahead and make sure that the folks who don't have health insurance right now and can get it through an expanded Medicaid, let's make sure we do that," Obama said, Reuters reported. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal responded by saying his administration would not be bullied into expanding Medicaid.

Twenty-five states have so far refused to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years of expansion, and 90 percent in the years after. However, states that don't expand eligibility starting Jan. 1 would sacrifice portions of the full payment.

Meanwhile, Missouri policymakers are considering ways to expand Medicaid. The majority of the Show Me State's leadership is Republican and so far has refused to expand the program. However, some lawmakers have proposed cutting back the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage to middle-income households in order to supplant Medicaid spending. State Rep. Jay Barnes observed that SCHIP is "more liberal than the Affordable Care Act," reported Missourinet. He suggested that those families receiving SCHIP coverage earning more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level pay a premium to retain the coverage or purchase family coverage through the state's health insurance exchange.

"I'm comfortable with saying the state of Missouri should not pay for health insurance for a family that makes 300 percent of the federal poverty level," Barnes said.

To learn more:
- read the Politico article
- here's the Reuters article
- check out the Missourinet article

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