Another Red State Moves toward Medicaid Expansion

A happy byproduct of the tortured debate about the Affordable Health Care Act is recognition of the benefits of Medicaid expansion.

Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services,”

Less than a week after the demise of the Trump/Ryan bill, the Kansas legislature voted to accept Medicaid expansion funds.  Here is an excerpt from the Washington Post story on March 29 covering the event.  

TOPEKA, Kan. — “State lawmakers in this deep-red state on Tuesday did what a year ago would have been unthinkable: They voted to expand Medicaid under the health-care law that Republicans here have railed against for years.

Among them was Sen. Barbara Bollier (R), whose support last year for extending the government health program to more poor Kansans was considered so rogue that her colleagues tossed her off a health committee. This month, so many Kansas lawmakers voted for the expansion that they nearly mustered the two-thirds majority needed to block the Republican governor’s expected veto.

The abrupt reversal in Kansas could be the front edge of a larger shift nationally, as state lawmakers absorb the repercussions of congressional Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal and replace elements of the Affordable Care Act.  (My bolding)

In Virginia, Gov. Terry Mc­Auliffe (D) on Monday pledged to revive efforts in his state’s Republican-led legislature to pass Medicaid expansion. Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, also announced plans to change his state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid advocates in North Carolina see hope for renewed momentum as Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has sought to expand the program there through executive action.”

JAMA, journal of the American Medical Association, reported that 67% of Republicans, 79% of Independents, and 90% of Democrats supported the statement that “States may chose to expand Medicaid.”

If Kansas can do it, why not Wisconsin?  Some Republican governors and legislatures gradually moved to accept Medicaid expansion money after passage of the AHCA.  More are headed in that direction.  The evidence is clear that the federal funds save state dollars and help people who need it.

NOTE:  Maine voters will be able to support Medicaid expansion at the ballot box next November.  A petition drive to put the issue on the ballot succeeded in February.   Maine has a Republican governor who refused expansion funds.

UPDATE:  Click here for “The States where Obama’s Footprint Might Get Even Bigger.”

UPDATE: Click here to read a less hopeful report on prospects for change.  It is “No Obama Ceasefire in Red States.”

UPDATE:  Click here for a detailed report by NPR of what’s happening with Medicaid expansion in Kansas, Virginia, and Maine.

UPDATE:  Kansas legislature failed to override the governor’s veto.  A majority of the Republican-controlled legislature voted for expansion, but the measure failed by 3 votes because a 2/3 vote was required to override.



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