Medicaid expansion advocates look for help from business groups
Medicaid expansion advocates look to business
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