Medicaid Expanding in 2014…For Some

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By Ashley Toro, Triage Cancer Intern

In the last two weeks, much of the country has had its attention on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (otherwise known as Obamacare).  One of the changes under the ACA is an expansion of Medicaid starting on January 1, 2014.  Although Medicaid programs vary from state to state, Medicaid provides health coverage for certain low-income individuals, families with children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities.  Currently, Medicaid is the largest source of funding for health services for low-income individuals in the U.S.

A huge gap in the current Medicaid program is that it does not cover childless, low-income individuals because having a low-income alone does not necessarily qualify someone for Medicaid.  Under the ACA, many states are expanding their Medicaid coverage.  States participating in the Medicaid expansion will allow individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level to qualify for coverage.

Although the ACA sought to make this expansion mandatory for all states, the 2012 Supreme Court decision made the expansion voluntary and many states are opting not to expand their Medicaid programs.  Additionally, some states are pursuing other ways to expand coverage.  Debates over whether to adopt the expansion are still ongoing in many states.  One of the main goals of the ACA is to provide affordable access to health care for all.  However, states choosing not to expand Medicaid will continue to have a gap in coverage for childless, low-income adults.  Practically speaking, this means that those individuals will continue to lack access to basic health and preventative care.

Since eligibility will now vary from state to state, it is imperative for those needing coverage to find out whether their state will move forward with Medicaid expansion in 2014.  Although where states stand seems to be constantly changing, we here at Triage Cancer have tried to create a chart to keep track of where states stand on the expansion.  You can find it on our resources page or by clicking here.  You can also get more information on what to do if your state is not expanding here.

If you live in a state that is choosing not to expand its Medicaid program, and you are concerned about that, consider contacting your elected officials and letting them know.  Triage Cancer has some simple legislative advocacy tools available here.

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