Trump’s move may nudge GOP states to expand Medicaid


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

In an ironic twist, the Trump administration’s embrace of work requirements for low-income people on Medicaid is prompting lawmakers in some conservative states to resurrect plans to expand health care for the poor.

Trump’s move has been widely criticized as threatening the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But if states follow through, more Americans could get coverage.

“I think it gives us a chance,” said Kansas state Rep. Susan Concannon, a moderate Republican who pushed unsuccessfully for Medicaid expansion last year in her state.

In Utah, the office of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said the Trump administration’s willingness to approve work requirements is one of several concessions the state would demand to cover more poor residents through Medicaid.

There’s already an economic argument for states to expand Medicaid, since it translates to billions of federal dollars for hospitals and medical service providers. But Republican Mike Leavitt, a former U.S. health secretary and Utah governor, said the ability to impose work requirements adds an ideological motivator.

Medicaid is a federal-state collaboration originally meant for poor families and severely disabled people. Over the years, it’s grown to become the largest government health insurance program, now covering 1 in 5 people. Overall, Americans have a favorable view of the program, and oppose funding cuts.

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