- At a recent press briefing, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said one of her priorities is to encourage states to expand Medicaid, but economic pressures from hospital closures and unpaid services may drive states that have refused Medicaid expansion to finally do so.
- Louisiana was the first state in the Deep South to make the plunge, perhaps breaking the political deadlock on Medicaid expansion.
- Healthcare advocates opine that once a new president is in office, Republican governors that have been holding out due to political reasons may start to reconsider expansion.
Although Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) plans to make changes to how Medicaid is delivered in the state, it's doubtful other states will consider eliminating Medicaid expansion since it would mean canceling health coverage for millions.
According to The Sacramento Bee, President Obama's 2017 budget proposal will include a request to allow states to experience three years of 100% federal funding if they decide to expand Medicaid this year or next year. However, it's not expected to gain Congressional approval.
Some state governors have approved expansion without legislative consent (Alaska, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia) while there are several states now grappling with expansion proposals. Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) of South Dakota is asking the Republican Legislature to approve extending Medicaid to 55,000 residents, including Native Americans. If approved, it would be the first time Medicaid coverage would extend for Indian health services on and off the reservation.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Gov. Matt Mead (R) of Wyoming are both seeking expansion, but their respective Republican legislatures rejected it. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) of Utah and Gov. Bill Haslam (R) of Tennessee also tried to get expansion approved but both were opposed by GOP legislatures.
Research has backed up the health and economic benefits in states that have expanded Medicaid. If the 19 remaining states were to approve expansion, more than 6 million Americans would be eligible for coverage, according to Families USA.