American Rescue Plan Offers New Incentives For States To Expand Medicaid Coverage, But Governors Remain Opposed

By Consumers for Quality Care, on April 21, 2021

American Rescue Plan Offers New Incentives For States To Expand Medicaid Coverage, But Governors Remain Opposed

According to The Washington Post, the most recent Coronavirus relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, could increase access to health coverage for residents whose state governments refuse to expand Medicaid.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota and, Wisconsin have not passed Medicaid expansion are eligible to receive a generous financial incentive if they agree to open the program to more poor and working class people.

One of the 4 million people in those states that the healthcare safety net doesn’t reach is Kelly Percival of Florida. She had insurance until she severely fractured her right ankle, and needed two metal plates and 16 screws. When she was ready to come back to work two months later, she was told not to bother, as her company was downsizing amidst the coronavirus pandemic. She did not qualify for the Medicaid program because in Florida it only covers individuals with incomes up to 31 percent of the federal poverty line.

Her unemployment assistance amounts to barely a third of her previous pay, and she’s only been able to keep her house because the federal government is not allowing foreclosures during the pandemic.

“These small things that can happen to anyone at any time can break you. You’ve worked so hard, and all of a sudden you are at the risk of losing everything. It’s a nightmare to live with your fear. If the state had an option, I could take advantage and go back to the orthopedist,” Percival said. “It would just give me peace of mind.”

The recent relief package is viewed by some as a prescription to get these twelve holdout states to expand Medicaid. The incentives offered by the federal government are estimated at $16.4 billion over two years, significantly higher than the estimated $6.8 billion cost of insurance for newly eligible people like Percival.

Supporters of the legislation think the offer is too good to refuse, but when Governor Ron DeSantis was asked if he would consider accepting the incentive, a spokeswoman said he “remains opposed to the expansion of Medicaid in Florida.”