After GOP Health Bill’s Demise, More States Weigh Expanding Medicaid – By  Stephanie Armour Updated March 28, 2017 7:33 p.m. ET


Virginia, Maine and North Carolina are among the states taking steps toward growing their programs

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

A growing number of states are considering expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, after last week’s abrupt collapse of the GOP health bill and a development that could make it harder for Republicans to undo the law in the future.

Notably, the GOP-led Kansas legislature voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid over the protests of the state’s Republican governor. In addition, states including Virginia, Maine and North Carolina are taking steps toward growing their Medicaid programs now that the ACA seems unlikely to go away and federal money for such an expansion appears more secure.

At the same time, House Republican leaders, who were forced to withdraw a repeal-and-replace bill on Friday due to insufficient support from their own members, suggested Tuesday they were renewing their efforts. But there was little indication GOP divisions over the bill were healing, and Senate and White House officials said they saw no immediate path forward.

Given the prospect that, as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said Friday, “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” some state officials are taking another look at expanding Medicaid, including those who had demurred because they expected President Donald Trump and a GOP-led Congress to repeal the ACA.

“The thing that held states back was that they were going to end Medicaid expansion,” said Adam Searing, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. “Now when you have the House speaker saying this is going to stay, it’s like, ‘We may get the money, why not explore it?’ ”

Expanding Medicaid, a federal-state health program for the poor and disabled, is a pillar of the ACA, allowing low-income adults who hadn’t previously qualified for Medicaid to become eligible. Washington provides additional funding to states that adopted the expansion, and the rolls of Medicaid and a related program have grown by around 16 million since the expansion went into effect in 2014.

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