Midterm elections lower chances of Medicaid expansion

Voters in five states elected Republican governors on Tuesday, dashing most hopes of expanding Medicaid in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas, reported Kaiser Health News.

"No one would say it was a good night for the prospects of Medicaid expansion," Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, told KHN.

In Maine, re-elected Gov. Paul LePage already vetoed five separate bills to expand Medicaid. And Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was also just re-elected, says he supports expanding the state's Medicaid program, but hasn't taken concrete steps toward reaching that goal. 

Some experts say that if those states had elected Democratic governors, an additional 1.7 million people could have become eligible for Medicaid coverage, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. But Alker doesn't think it would have been such an easy task because even if Democrats had won, they would have had to get the Republican-controlled legislatures to approve expansion.

Meanwhile, newly elected Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) says he will analyze the state's private option Medicaid program, which must be reauthorized by the legislature every year to "determine whether the program should be terminated or continued," The Hill's Healthwatch reported.

But Caroline Pearson, vice president of consulting firm Avalere, doesn't think Arkansas lawmakers will be able to completely dismantle the state's Medicaid program since it already has provided coverage for more than 60,000 individuals. "It is incredibly difficult to take benefits away from state residents once they have been granted," she told KHN.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- see The Hill's Healthwatch article