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Collapse of GOP bill may presage more Medicaid expansion

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The collapse, for now anyway, of the Republican health-insurance bill may lead  some states where Republicans have been blocking Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for years to finally join the expansion, reports Governing Magazine.

Consider that in Kansas the legislature has voted to expand Medicaid, although hard-right Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to veto it. In Georgia, Governing reports, GOP Gov. Nathan Deal “announced that he is now open to applying for a federal waiver that would let the state expand Medicaid but with more flexibility. And in Virginia, where the Republican-dominated legislature has crushed Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to expand Medicaid, he is renewing his push.”

“The failure of Congress to replace Obamacare — at least so far — may boost long-shot bids to expand Medicaid in other states,” too, Governing reports.

“Idaho and South Dakota, for example, both toyed around with the idea of expansion but ultimately abandoned it once Trump, who promised to repeal Obamacare ‘on Day One,’ was elected. Both governors had been hopeful that something could be worked out but faced opposition from the legislature. Those efforts could be revived now that repeal isn’t on the immediate horizon.

”In Maine, the legislature had passed Medicaid expansion five times — only to be vetoed by GOP Gov. Paul LePage. This prompted residents to take matters in their own hands, and voters are set to decide the issue in November. But advocates of expansion hope the legislature will act sooner now that the ACA replacement plan collapsed.”

“Medicaid expansion has been a highly partisan issue. But the debate at the federal level has revealed that there’s more bipartisan support — among voters and policymakers — for expanding Medicaid than previously thought. Republican governors arguably scored the biggest win with the demise of {House Speaker} Paul Ryan’s plan because now they will likely take less political heat for expanding Medicaid and can claim credit for insuring more of their residents.”

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