State choice on Medicaid expansion to result in patchwork of federal health care assistance
WASHINGTON — Nearly two in three uninsured low-income people who would qualify for subsidized coverage under President Obama's health care law may be out of luck next year, because their states have not expanded Medicaid.
An Associated Press analysis of figures from the Urban Institute finds a big coverage gap developing, with 9.7 million out of 15 million potentially eligible adults living in states that are refusing the expansion or are still undecided with time running short.
That a majority of the neediest people who could be helped by the law may instead remain uninsured is a predicament unforeseen by Obama and congressional Democrats who designed a sweeping extension of the social safety net. The law's historic promise of health insurance for nearly all U.S. residents would not be fulfilled as envisioned.
It's the direct consequence of last summer's Supreme Court decision that gave states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, combined with unyielding resistance to the law from many Republican state lawmakers.
Starting next year, middle-class people without job-based coverage will be able to get tax credits to help them buy private insurance. But the law calls for low-income people to enroll in Medicaid, expanded to accommodate a largely excluded group: adults with no children at home. Expanded Medicaid would cover about half the 25 million to 30 million people who could be helped by the law.
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have decided to accept the expansion, which is fully financed by Washington for the first three years and phases down gradually to a 90 percent federal share.
Among those are six states led by Republican governors.
“Because of the Supreme Court's decision making Medicaid expansion optional with the states, we're going to see some pretty significant differences in this country from one place to another in terms of access to health care and access to health insurance,” said Gary Cohen, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the rollout of the law.
Republican state lawmakers oppose the expansion for several reasons. Many believe Medicaid has too many problems. Others worry that Washington will renege on financing. Some believe health care is an individual responsibility, not a government obligation.
GOP health policy expert Gail Wilensky says she did not expect so many states to turn down the Medicaid expansion. While critical of some main features of the Affordable Care Act, Wilensky believes it's important for the country to get uninsured people covered.
“This is depriving the poorest of their citizens of an important benefit,” Wilensky said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Murder charges dropped against sergeant who shot 2 unarmed Iraqi boys
- First Ebola case in U.S. confirmed in Dallas
- Dallas hospital confirms 1st Ebola case in U.S.
- Secret Service chief endures blistering glare of Congress’ questions over White House breach
- Medical marijuana use to get court test in Colo.
- Pentagon review puts Gitmo transfers on ice
- New York City mayor boosts city’s living wage to $13.13
- California becomes 1st state to ban plastic bags
- FCC backs end to NFL broadcast blackouts
- Feds say $100M in data hacked
- Panel says Wis. lawmaker likely broke House rules by advocating for companies in which he owned stock