After mid-terms, states may reconsider Medicaid expansion

About half of the states had been staunchly opposed to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but watching billions of federal dollars flow to their neighbors has apparently softened their stance on the matter, Kaiser Health News has reported.

Georgia and some other anti-ACA states may reconsider their position on Medicaid expansion after the mid-term elections. The Peach State, for example, would be foregoing insurance coverage for more than 600,000 low-income residents, $30 billion in federal funds and as many as 70,000 new jobs as a result of the infusion of money, according to Kaiser Health News.

And it seems Georgia is not alone in such thinking. Two other anti-ACA states, Utah and Wyoming, are said to be negotiating with the federal government for a waiver that would allow them to expand Medicaid. More states could follow suit, according to Kaiser Health News, with the expansion of Medicaid following the pattern of states taking years to come on board when the program was originally launched alongside Medicare in 1965.

Two dozen states have yet to expand Medicaid under the ACA, with large chunks of them in the South or Midwest, and virtually all led by Republican governors and Republican-controlled statehouses. Moreover, few states chose the expansion route after President Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, as some reports indicated.

Those states that expanded Medicaid have had a profound impact on uncompensated care costs for hospitals: Medicaid expansion will save hospitals $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs with $4.2 billion going to hospitals in states that expanded the ACA, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"(Expansion is) going to continue to be discussed as state legislative sessions start up again," MaryBeth Musumeci, a health policy expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Kaiser Health News.

Georgia would likely follow the model of Arkansas, which obtained a waiver to expand coverage through private insurers. Such a model has been endorsed by the Medical Association of Georgia. However, expansion is currently opposed by Gov. Nathan Deal, who said enrolling more people in Medicaid would be prohibitively expensive.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article