With more GOP governors than one can count on his or her fingers planning to deny Medicaid coverage to their poorest citizens, progressives have been worried that the Obama Administration might compromise and allow governors to take all of the ObamaCare Medicaid funding, but then just allow partial expansion of Medicaid -- say for individuals up to 100% of the poverty line, as compared to 133%. Luckily, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has delivered a good answer to these whining babies (errr...governors): HELL NO.
"The law contemplated that every American would have a way to get health insurance coverage, and Medicaid expansion to 133 percent of poverty to low-income adults was the method identified in the law," Cindy Mann, the director of the Center for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program Services, said during a conference call with reporters.This is stellar news for poorer individuals in GOP-controlled states. As numerous studies have shown, a full Medicaid expansion will save states money by reducing the need to finance uncompensated care at safety-net hospitals. By forcing states to either 'take it or leave it', the Obama Administration has increased the likelihood that GOP governors will choose to take it, ensuring that no poor citizens are left in a black hole with neither Medicaid nor exchange subsidies available.
"Some states have asked whether they could get the 100 percent federal match and expand Medicaid coverage to less than the 133 percent of poverty level specified in the law," Mann said. That amount is "a rate that Congress reserved for the full expansion, and so we are going to remain true to that intent of Congress," she said. There is no deadline for states to decide on the Medicaid expansion, and they can join at any time, she said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to governors Monday about the Medicaid expansion and other aspects of the health care law and included a question-and-answer document touching on details.
Taking the partial Medicaid expansion off the table could encourage more states to take the federal money and offer new Medicaid benefits to everyone eligible under health care reform, said Jocelyn Guyer, the co-executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.This is a significant 'win' for progressives not only because it is good policy for poorer Americans, but also because it further expands a popular and efficient government-financed health care program. The more people we have on Medicaid and Medicare the fewer dollars are sent to inefficient and greedy big-profit insurance companies.
"Most states are going to look at this and eventually decide it's a good, smart investment for them to do the expansion," Guyer said. "Those states that stay out of the expansion are most likely ideologically driven."
Winning these 'small battles' is crucial to ensuring that ObamaCare does as much for everyday consumers, and as a little for the plutocrats, as possible.