Medicaid Expansion, More States To Pursue Obamacare Law

By Nethani Palmani | Mar 28, 2017 10:21 AM EDT

Beginning this year, states will have to gradually pick up some costs, but the federal government still funds 90% or more of Medicaid expansion through 2020. It was a better deal compared to the time before the ACA, when Medicaid programs were funded via a much less generous split between state and federal tax dollars. (Photo : Alex Wong / Getty Images)

More states will pursue the expansion of Medicaid for poor Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The decision was made after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the law.

There was a huge possibility the ACA's Medicaid expansion in states could have been rolled out by the American Health Care Act (ACHA), also known as Trumpcare. But the Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan suspended the ACHA legislation on Friday, making, "Obamacare the law of the land."

Currently under the ACA, Kansas and North Carolina are already, and primarily working toward becoming the 32nd and 33rd states to pursue Medicaid expansion, according to the Advisory Board. In fact, there will be even more states that will revive state legislative efforts to expand Medicaid.

Other states like Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota were previously considering Medicaid expansion, but has put on their brakes following Trump's election. This was the time to ACA repeal looked high likely threatening to Medicaid expansion. "The effort to expand Medicaid in Georgia just died," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, following Trump's victory.

Dating back to 2014 through 2016, the ACA's Medicaid expansion population was under federal funding. The states will gradually have to pick up some costs starting this year, but the federal government still picks up 90% or more of Medicaid expansion till 2020, which is a better deal than the earlier years.

The Medicaid expansion has also been a great mover for health insurance giants, including Aetna, Anthem, Centene, Humana, and UnitedHealth Group. With substantial Medicaid contracts that have enrolled millions of members, an expansion in Kansas alone would add another 150,000 people to Medicaid rolls.

"We have to move ahead as a state," the Republican chair of the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, Vicki Schmidt said. Meanwhile, the ACA remains intact, as Kansas and other states can move forward with their Medicaid expansions.

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