By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 06/04/14 11:18 AM EDT
Some of the most vulnerable Democratic senators have signed on to a Wednesday letter asking Republican governors to "put politics aside" and expand Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare.
Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), who are running tight midterm reelection races, were among the 20 who signed the letter. The letter was addressed to their three governors, along with 15 others.
“Again, we urge that you put politics aside and do the right thing in helping to expand Medicaid coverage to the millions of Americans who desperately need it,” they added.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to poorer Americans, and the cost is overwhelmingly covered by the federal government.
However, several states have decided against implementing the provision because they are concerned the federal government may not be able to hold up its end of the bargain to pay for coverage.
The signatories urged the Republican governors to expand Medicaid to 6 million more people in their states whose incomes are too high for current coverage but too low to qualify for premium tax credits under ObamaCare insurance plans.
The senators also noted Sylvia Burwell, who is expected to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, has said she plans to work with states to be flexible in how they implement Medicaid expansion as long as it falls within the law.
“This was a reaffirmation of HHS’s commitment to work with states, and we would encourage you to begin discussions about how best to provide coverage for the people who fall into this coverage gap,” they said.
The letter was signed by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
It was sent to Republican Govs. Robert Bentley (Ala.), Sean Parnell (Alaska), Rick Scott (Fla.), Nathan Deal (Ga.), Butch Otter (Idaho), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Bobby Jindal (La.), Paul LePage (Maine), Phil Bryant (Mississippi), Dave Heineman (Neb.), Pat McCroy (N.C.), Mary Fallin (Okla.), Nikki Haley (S.C.), Dennis Daugaard (S.D.), Bill Haslam (Tenn.), Rick Perry (Texas), Scott Walker (Wis.) and Matt Mead (Wyo.).