Expanding Medicaid health benefits to everyone eligible under President Barack Obama's health care reform law would increase state spending on the program by just 3 percent while extending health coverage to more than 20 million people,according to a study released Monday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute.
The health care law seeks to enroll into the Medicaid program anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $14,856 this year. But when theSupreme Court upheld the law in June, its decision allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. So far, Republican governors in eight states have declared they won't participate, denying health care coverage to millions of their poorest residents.
Republican governors who are stalwart opponents of Obamacare, including Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, cite the cost of expanding Medicaid as a primary reason for refusing to go along with the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA. But the states' share of the new costs of covering more people on Medicaid is relatively small. Combined with greater private health insurance coverage, Medicaid expansion would result in a large reduction in the number of uninsured people, and fewer unpaid medical bills that raise costs for taxpayers.
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