More states pressured to expand Medicaid

Leaders in states hostile to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are under increasing pressure to expand Medicaid coverage.

Up to a dozen states--more than half of the total that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility--could wind up expanding their coverage after the mid-term elections in November, Reuters reported. Nine states are in talks with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand their programs, and another three could begin negotiations soon depending on whether Democratic governors are elected in November, according to the wire service. The Obama administration's apparent willingness to accept Medicaid expansion plans with private market tweaks is also a factor.

"The hope is that they'll be less interested in the purity of their original vision and be more interested in cutting deals to get some of these things done," Tony Venhuizen, spokesperson for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), told Reuters.

The tipping point came when Pennsylvania, which had held out from expanding Medicaid for a couple of years, recently came to terms with CMS to expand Medicaid. Polls indicate that Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, is behind a Democratic challenger who made it a priority to support Medicaid expansion without strings attached.

"Pennsylvania's the leading edge of what could be a new wave of expanding states," said Deborah Bachrach, a Medicaid expert at the law and consulting firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "This would marginalize the non-expansion states to the considerable detriment of their citizens and put pressure on those who oppose expansion," she said.

Expanding Medicaid can cause an economic boon both for states and the hospitals. A RAND study found Pennsylvania's expansion of Medicaid may reap $3 billion in benefits and 35,000 jobs, according to the article. 

Another report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that the ACA has saved $5.7 billion in uncompensated care. Of that total, nearly 80 percent is the result of Medicaid expansion in states that decided to embrace the program.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article