| WASHINGTON, July 30
WASHINGTON, July 30 The Obama administration on
Monday said it expects that U.S. states will eventually join its
planned expansion of the Medicaid healthcare program as they
evaluate the benefits of providing health coverage to more
U.S. Medicaid director Cindy Mann said states will likely
spend the next several months analyzing the plan, which under
President Barack Obama's healthcare law, would extend health
coverage to about 16 million uninsured people based on new
criteria that broadens eligibility to people with incomes of up
to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law in June also
allowed individual states to decide whether to accept the
Medicaid expansion, sparking an election-year revolt among
Republican governors who have opposed the entire reform. The law
takes full effect in 2014.
"There's much to consider. But we believe that when states
do weigh in ... they'll decide that it's in their state interest
to move ahead," Mann told a healthcare forum sponsored by the
Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank.
Many Republican governors say the multibillion-dollar
10-year expansion could lead to higher taxes and less education
funding for state residents, despite federal subsidies that
would cover 90 percent to 100 percent of the cost.
At least five governors have said they would not implement
an expansion, and await the outcome of presidential and
Congressional elections to see whether their party will have
enough power to repeal the law.
The costs and benefits of the expansion include potential
administrative spending, savings on state healthcare
expenditures for the uninsured, and the financial impact of
billions of dollars in federal subsidies on hospitals, clinics
and state economies.
Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state
governments but is overseen by Washington. In most states,
current benefits are available only to narrowly defined groups
of poor people including parents and pregnant women. But
Medicaid spending still accounts for a large portion of
cash-strapped state budgets.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that
about 6 million people who are eligible for the expansion will
not be covered by Medicaid because of resistance from state
About half of those, with incomes above the federal poverty
line, could still receive subsidized health coverage through a
state-run exchange. The remaining 3 million would go without
health coverage, according to CBO analysts.
The United States pays more for healthcare than any other
country. But about 50 million of the roughly 310 million
Americans still have no insurance at all.