Will they or won’t they? Examining state Medicaid expansion

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In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare’s mandated Medicaid expansion for low-income Americans should be optional for states. Since then, health policy experts have been paying close attention to how individual states are proceeding with the rollout of national health reform.

Two of those experts from Harvard School of Public Health—Benjamin Sommers and John McDonough—were quoted on the subject in an August 7, 2013 article.

As of midsummer, roughly half the states were planning to join the initial Medicaid rollout. States that opt in to the expanded program—which would cover everyone with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level including childless adults for the first time—would have their expansion completely funded by the federal government for three years. Over time, the federal contribution would decrease to 90%.

McDonough, director of HSPH’s Center for Public Health Leadership and an architect of Massachusetts’ health insurance reform—which served as a template for Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA)—said that the Medicaid expansion outlined in the ACA is aimed at standardizing eligibility across the nation. Currently, he explained, states vary widely in how much Medicaid they provide their citizens.