Obama proposes funding boost for states to expand Medicaid

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President Obama is proposing to boost federal funding for states that choose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare in a new effort to entice states to make the move. 

Obama will propose in his 2017 budget to have the federal government pick up the entire cost of expansion for three years, no matter when a state decides to accept the expansion. 

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Under current law, states only got three years of full federal funding if they accepted the expansion in 2014. If nothing changes, states newly accepting the expansion would not get full federal funding after 2016 and instead would get payments that are somewhat less, eventually dialing back to 90 percent of costs. 

The proposal faces long odds in a Republican-controlled Congress still deeply opposed to ObamaCare. 

The effort to give even states that are latecomers to expansion three years of full federal funding is part of a push in Obama’s final years to get the remaining 19 states to drop their opposition to expansion. 

The announcement coincides with Obama’s travel to Louisiana on Thursday, which comes after the state’s new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, signed an executive order to expand Medicaid on Tuesday. 

ObamaCare allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line, about $33,000 for a family of four. 

“Medicaid expansion is working for Americans across this nation, but the job isn't over so long as families and workers in 19 states can't access affordable health insurance,” two top White House officials, Shaun DonovanShaun DonovanOvernight Healthcare: New momentum to lift ban on gay men donating blood White House makes last-ditch plea for opioid funding Overnight Energy: Coal industry group backs Trump MORE and Cecilia Muñoz, wrote in a blog post. 

The White House says that with Louisiana’s announcement, a majority (4.4 million people) of the uninsured Americans who could gain coverage from Medicaid expansion now live in states that have accepted expansion. 

The administration has also emphasized flexibility in working with states on expansion. Some Republican-led states have negotiated with the administration to put a conservative twist on the program, such as making enrollees pay premiums.  

The White House pointed to a recent study in the journal Health Affairs finding a drop in people having trouble paying medical bills or skipping care in two states that expanded Medicaid. 

Republicans resistant to the program argue that expansion is too costly and often also cite objections to expanding a government-run health insurance program to cover able-bodied people.