Now that the Affordable Care Act has survived its most serious threat in Congress, the law’s footprint across the country might grow even larger in the months ahead.
Several states that initially opted out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion are now reconsidering their decision as a result of last year’s elections and as Republicans come under new pressure to accept the billions in federal dollars available under the law. The most aggressive push is coming in deep-red Kansas, where the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday sent Governor Sam Brownback legislation that could expand the state’s version of Medicaid to as many as 150,000 new enrollees.
Brownback has criticized the bill and has 10 days to veto it, but a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in the legislature are only a few votes shy of the threshold needed for an override. In Georgia, GOP Governor Nathan Deal said Monday that following the failure of the American Health Care Act on Capitol Hill last week, the state would explore seeking waivers from the Trump administration to allow Georgia to access federal money for an expansion while implementing restrictions on eligibility for enrollees. Utah has also sought waivers for a limited expansion approved last year by its state legislature. And in Maine, advocates for expanding Medicaid successfully forced the issue onto the ballot as a referendum this November; they did so after falling a few votes short of overriding conservative Governor Paul LePage’s repeated vetoes of expansion legislation.