Health Care

White House working with moderates on new Medicaid proposal

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told moderate GOP senators at a White House meeting Wednesday that the administration is willing to hammer out a new Medicaid proposal.

The latest proposal, which senators are calling a “Medicaid wrap-around,” would give states more flexibility to use Medicaid funding to cover the healthcare expenses of people outside the program who face high healthcare costs.

“She explained very briefly — very, very briefly — some of the parameters of what they’re calling this wrap-around for Medicaid,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), one of the moderate holdouts who has threatened to vote against a motion to proceed to the GOP’s healthcare bill.

{mosads}The idea is to make up for the reduction of federal funding for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion by allowing states to use Medicaid funds to subsidize the cost of healthcare for people who would have to rely on federal tax credits to buy their own insurance outside of Medicaid.

But Murkowski and other moderates aren’t completely sold yet.

“I think it’s best to sum it up as: it’s complicated. It will have differing impacts depending on where each state is respectively,” she said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said there was a lot of discussion at the White House meeting about the “wind-down” of enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion.”

“Seema Verma has been very focused on an issue that I think has a lot of potential, where you can do a wrap-around, what she calls a wrap-around with Medicaid funding,” he said.

He said a combination of Medicaid funding, tax credits and funding from the $132 billion long-term state innovation fund could be used to cover people who would lose coverage if states retrenched ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the idea “got some resonance” at Wednesday’s meeting.

He said senators from states that expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare “seem to be interested by” the latest idea.

A lawmaker briefed on the talks said Verma has had “lengthy conversations” with moderate senators who are concerned about phasing out the Medicaid expansion as they work to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The proposal would allow “states to be able to decide how to spend Medicaid dollars,” the lawmaker said.

“If you have somebody who is in-plan with high deductibles, it helps lessen the cost,” the source added. “It’s a fairly new thing they’ve been talking about.”

Jordain Carney contributed. 

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