Medicaid expansion is next top healthcare challenge, advocates say

Medicaid expansion in two dozen states remains one of the biggest hurdles to guaranteeing healthcare coverage after the rollout of ObamaCare, according to a new report from Families USA.

Unless the remaining 23 states opt to expand the eligibility for the low-income insurance program, millions of people will continue to lack affordable coverage, the healthcare advocacy group warned.

Many of those who remain uninsured fall in a coverage gap, where they make too little to qualify for tax credits but just above the current eligibility for Medicaid — unless they live in the 28 states that have agreed to the ObamaCare provision that brings a windfall of federal dollars to expand coverage.

“States must extend the Medicaid lifeline so that all low-income individuals and families can get the care they need,” according to the group’s report outlining future healthcare challenges “Health Reform 2.0.”

The decision to expand Medicaid remains a deeply contested issue in statehouses around the country, particularly in those run by Republicans.

Seven states are in talks to expand the program, while 16 states have expressed no interest — nearly all of which are controlled by GOP governors and legislatures.

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) have opted in, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) have remained staunchly opposed.

The issue of Medicaid expansion made it onto the agenda of a closed-door meeting at the White House last week with a handful of governors.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has taken a cautious approach, encouraging governors to craft their own expansion plans without making a hard push.

Families USA, a longtime proponent of ObamaCare, touted the healthcare law’s “historic achievement” of guaranteeing the right to health coverage. Still, it warned that the job is far from complete.

“Enacting this unprecedented legal right is not the same as making it a living reality,” according to the report.