States Seek Medicaid Expansion Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

With no vote on the American Health Care Act, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land and states are feeling more confident to pursue one of its chief provisions–Medicaid expansion. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have already opted into this provision, seeing better health outcomes, an increase in health-related jobs, economic growth and, overall, a greater percentage of low-income adults who now have coverage. As repeal becomes less likely, the states missing out on the expansion benefits are reconsidering their position.

Most recently, the Republican-held Kansas legislature passed a bill through the House and Senate to expand their Medicaid program, but the bill was cut short with a veto from the conservative Governor Sam Brownback. This may not be the end of the road for Medicaid expansion, however. 82% of Kansas residents are in favor of expansion and an estimated 150,000 Kansas residents would be extended coverage. Lawmakers cannot ignore these figures or the demands from their constituents and, as a result, the stage may be set for a veto override. Push for expansion from both sides of the aisle further proves Kaiser Family Foundation’s poll that expansion under the ACA is not a partisan decision, but in the best interest of the American people.

Other states that have started to consider expanding Medicaid include Maine, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Oral Health America believes that every American should have an equal opportunity to achieve good oral and overall health throughout their lives. Under Medicaid expansion, those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford quality healthcare will be covered and, thanks to the federal funding structure, states have the opportunity to offer a wider range of services–including a possible dental benefit.

The cancelled vote on the American Health Care Act affirms our legislators are taking notice of constituents’ calls, emails, demonstrations and social media posts, but the fight is not over!

Let’s harness the momentum gained to make sure our agenda moves forward in this political climate as other decisions that affect our health and oral healthcare are considered – especially when it comes to the “skinny” FY2018 budget. We encourage you to use our OHA Position Paper to educate policymakers on the benefit of the Affordable Care Act and continue to keep a pulse on your legislators. Together we can work to make sure more Americans receive quality oral healthcare!

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