Medicaid incentive so far not enough to sway holdout states

abcnews.go.com
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Democrats' nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes a big financial incentive for the states that have opted against expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage for more low-income Americans
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Democrats' nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes a big financial incentive for the states that have opted against expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage for more low-income Americans. It's proving to be a tough sell.

The Associated Press surveyed top Republican elected officials in the dozen states that have resisted expanding coverage under a key provision of former President Barack Obama's heath care law. Some have softened their opposition, but the key gatekeepers— governors or legislative leaders — indicated they have no plans to change course.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster remains firmly opposed to the Medicaid expansion.

"Gov. McMaster isn't for sale, regardless of whatever ill-conceived 'incentives' congressional Democrats may come up with," spokesman Brian Symmes said in a statement. "What the federal spending plan does is attempt to offer a short term solution for a long term problem."

The federal government already pays 90% of the costs of expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults. Thirty-six states have signed on to the expansion. Two more -- Missouri and Oklahoma -- are scheduled to begin their expansions in July.

Under the enticement included in the coronavirus relief bill adopted by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, the federal government would boost its share of costs in the regular Medicaid program, which offers coverage for the poorest Americans. The bump in federal funding would last two years for the states that join the Medicaid expansion.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found the additional federal money would cover 150% to 400% of the cost for the holdout states to expand Medicaid, which is jointly funded with federal and state dollars.

In Texas, the incentives would send the state about $5 billion over two years, and the state's share of expanding coverage would be about $3.1 billion. More than 1.4 million people in the state could become eligible for…
GEOFF MULVIHILL and JEFFREY COLLINS Associated Press
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