Red States Across The Country Are Rethinking Medicaid Expansion, But Will Texas?

“There is absolutely an opportunity to do some kind of coverage program that would incorporate pieces that would probably never have been approved under the Obama administration.”

By Ashley LopezMarch 31, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KUT

After the failure of the GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, there’s a new political landscape, and states across the country with Republican-led legislatures are weighing their options when it comes to Medicaid expansion.

Conservative states – most recently Kansas — see an opening to extend health care to more low-income adults. But it’s unclear whether Texas – a state that has more uninsured people than any other state in the country – is willing to hop on the bandwagon.

Though, even under the Affordable Care Act, some Texans still haven’t been able to get insurance. Amber Keith, who lives in Texarkana, is one of those Texans.

Keith’s family earns a little over $47,000 a year, and they can’t afford private health insurance. She qualifies for a subsidy to help pay for her premiums, if she buys a plan through the federal marketplace, but she says the coverage isn’t enough.

Keith has a large family with seven people and she just can’t make that work. While they would qualify for Medicaid, Texas hasn’t expanded the program.

“I live in the northeast part of Texas, which is on the border with Arkansas,” Keith says. “If I lived just two miles from my current location and I lived in Arkansas, we would have qualified for Medicaid under Arkansas’ expansion.”

The number of states joining Arkansas – and other conservative states neighboring Texas – has been slowly growing.

That’s due, in part, to that new political landscape: There’s a Republican in the White House now, and attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare proved harder than congressional Republicans previously thought. That’s why a few more Republican states are toying with the idea of expanding their Medicaid programs to low-income adults like Keith. Anne Dunkelberg with the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities argues Texas should be one of those states.

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