Despite pushback, GOP-led states choose to keep Medicaid expansion

Despite backlash from Affordable Care Act opponents, many Republican-led states that expanded Medicaid are sticking with it, which in turn is causing turmoil within the GOP, according to the Washington Post.

Republican legislators and governors have pushed back against Medicaid expansion, but are now starting to accept the billions of federal dollars that the ACA gives states that broaden the program. Of the 10 states in which Republican governors expanded Medicaid, none of them have backed out, despite the efforts of some in their party to reverse the decision, according to the article.

Twenty states, most of which are in the South, have rejected Medicaid expansion. Despite the fact that most of these states will continue to do so until after the 2016 election, as the article notes, the general trend is turning toward expansion. For example, Montana will expand its program at the start of 2016.

Medicaid's staying power is showing in many states that have recently expanded it. For example, Arkansas recently decided to keep its version of Medicaid expansion, even though the GOP retained or took over many legislative seats in last year's state election, the article says. More than 200,000 Arkansans have received health insurance under the measure.

"If we ended the Medicaid expansion and refused to accept those federal dollars, then that is a lot of money . . . being pulled out of our health system," Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said in August when announcing his initial decision, according to the Post.

Opponents have warned that expansion would hurt states' finances in the long run, but studies in both Arkansas and Kentucky predict that expanding Medicaid would be a financially good decision for the long haul, according to the article. Additionally, research from the Urban Institutes also shows that states that did not expand Medicaid coverage have an average uninsured rate more than twice as high as states that did.

To learn more:
- read the Washington Post article