Medicaid Expansion Gains Bipartisan Traction

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, it forced states to expand Medicaid as part of its plan to create universal healthcare coverage. The federal government would provide 100% of the funding for the first few years, and then gradually have the states contribute up to 10% by 2022. In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government was unable to compel the states to expand Medicaid under the ACA, and only about 20 states enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.

However, in the past few months, bipartisan efforts have been made in states across the country, from Utah to Arkansas, to maintain and expand Medicaid to millions of Americans.

Arkansas

As Benjamin Hardy reported, Arkansas expanded Medicaid in 2013 under former Democratic governor Mike Beebe with a private-public program. Since then, the program’s continuation has been fiercely debated, and, because of a high vote threshold, was narrowly renewed by a bipartisan vote of 27-2-6 in the state Senate. The House and governor are expected to consent to the bill (Arkansas Matters).

Arkansas also became the third state to receive permission from the Trump administration to set work-requirements on Medicaid recipients (Fox Business).

Utah

As The Salt Lake Tribune reported, both parties in the Utah legislature passed partial Medicaid expansion, allowing participants making 100% of the poverty line eligible, rather than 138% mandated by the ACA (The Salt Lake Tribune).

However, as Nathaniel Weixel of the Hill reports, it is unclear whether the Trump Administration will approve of the partial increase, as they have “punted” approving a similar proposal by Arkansas (The Hill).

Some Utahans want full expansion and are circulating a petition for a ballot referendum. Full expansion would provide healthcare for an additional 60,000 to 70,000 Utahans (Deseret News).

Other Initiatives

The Republican-led House of Delegates and Democratic governor in Virginia have both expressed support for Medicaid expansion, although the Republican-held Senate has been reticent. The legislature and governor will likely try to find a deal in the coming weeks during a special session for budget negotiations (The Washington Post).

In New Hampshire, a bill to reauthorize Medicaid expansion, which provides healthcare to 50,000 residents, passed the state Senate with bipartisan support, and will likely receive the approval of the Republican governor and House in the coming weeks (US News and World Report).

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