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HEALTH NEWS: States face Medicaid expansion decision
States can decide if they'll accept federal funds to expand Medicaid through Obamacare. Medicaid is the state-run health insurance plan for low-income Americans. There are questions about what the expansion will do to program....and who is ultimately footing the bill. Those questions have prompted some states to reject the federal dollars.
The federal government is trying to give states money to expand Medicaid-- and get more low-income Americans government health insurance.
"It's an infusion of money to get more people on the rolls, said Political Scientist Daniel Skinner.
Skinner is writing a book on healthcare and politics. He said the answer to who pays for Medicaid expansion is easy.
"Taxpayers are footing the bill, he said.
The question of whether or not states should accept all that money is not. The federal government will pay for 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid for low-income Americans for the first three years.
And phase that down to 90 percent by 2022. Right now-- federal dollars cover 63 percent of the program. Skinner says it's impossible to predict the total toll of the Medicaid expansion on the American taxpayer because every state is different-- As one Medicaid scholar put it, 'if you know one Medicaid program you know one Medicaid program. There are 50 of them!"
Six months before the Medicaid expansion program was set to take effect-- 24 states had accepted the plan, 21 had rejected it--And 6 were still considering their options. In Ohio alone-- $13 billion would add $366,000 to the roles.
"People might shoot themselves before they voted for it."
There's concern about the national debt. And in some statehouses lawmakers are worried Washington won't hold up its end of the bargain--And stick states with bigger bills and bloated roles.
At some conservative think tanks the concern is expanding the program fundamentally changes it.
"It would expand Medicaid to cover able-bodied adults who don't have children who aren't disabled, who aren't pregnant and who aren't elderly and it does so while providing no requirement those individuals seek employment."
A wide range of special interest groups have rallied for the expansion. Hospitals, business groups and advocates for the mentally ill see it as a good idea. Skinner says it's why some republican governors have accepted this part of Obamacare.
"The hard part here is a political question which is how do you turn back to your people and say I just left 17.3 billion dollars on the table?"
Because some argue if that money is not spent in your state...The federal government sends it to the next door instead. And for more health news...Just log on to weartv and click on the health link.