Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion ad­vo­cates look for help from busi­ness groups

Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion ad­vo­cates look to busi­ness

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - Rich Daly

Ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid re­mains a hard sell in most states. Hos­pi­tals and pa­tient ad­vo­cates are find­ing they can do it with the right friends and if they show jit­tery law­mak­ers how to do it with­out grow­ing an al­ready crush­ing fis­cal bur­den.

State leg­is­la­tures this month are be­gin­ning the ses­sions that will de­ter­mine whether they go along with the his­toric ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid sched­uled for 2014 un­der the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act.

Rais­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity to all le­gal res­i­dents with fam­ily in­comes of up to 138% of the fed­eral poverty level was a cen­tral pil­lar of the law and is ex­pected to add 7 mil­lion ben­e­fi­cia­ries next year. But the U.S. Supreme Court set off a state-by-state scrum over ex­pan­sion when it elim­i­nated penal­ties on states that don’t ex­pand as part of its June 2012 de­ci­sion up­hold­ing the law.

Provider and pa­tient ad­vo­cates in many states have joined with in­sur­ers and union groups to prod po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to­ward ex­pan- sion. But the re­cruit­ment of busi­ness groups to the cause has proved crit­i­cal in many Repub­li­can-led states.

“Hav­ing that nat­u­ral ally emerge out of years of work­ing closely with the busi­ness com­mu­nity has helped greatly in our ef­forts” to ex­pand Med­i­caid, said Pete Wertheim, a spokesman for the Ari­zona Hospi­tal and Health­care As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ari­zona is one of four states with Repub­li­can gov­er­nors who have de­cided in re­cent weeks to sup­port grow­ing their Med­i­caid pro­grams, de­spite their con­tin­ued op­po­si­tion to the un­der­ly­ing fed­eral law that au­tho­rized the ex­pan­sion. Ari­zona Gov. Jan Brewer’s sup­port co­in­cided with the state Cham­ber of Com­merce’s move to back the ex­pan­sion, Wertheim said.

Med­i­caid ad­vo­cates in other states have taken note and are pour­ing en­ergy into cor­ralling sup­port from busi­ness lead­ers.

For in­stance, the board of direc­tors of the Florida Cham­ber of Com­merce is ex­pected

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