A policy analyst expects to hear more about Medicaid expansion once state and federal elections draw near.
States were initially required to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, but that changed with a Supreme Court ruling that made expansion optional. Some states have been eager to go after temporary federal tax dollars to expand Medicaid, but others have refrained out of concerns that they will be stuck with the bill after federal assistance runs dry.
"It'll be a big part of the debate during election cycle at the state level, especially in the states that haven't expanded Medicaid, because there are going to be arguments about whether or not the state leaders who made those decisions left federal dollars on the table," says Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum (IWF). "I think that's the language that pro-Medicaid expansion people use because they believe that there is free money to be had from the federal government for expanding Medicaid in the states."
On the federal side of things, Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich did expand Medicaid in his state, although Louisiana Governor and GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal did not. While the two have yet to share a debate stage on the issue, Manning imagines they would have a sharp difference of opinion.
"I think all of the Democratic presidential candidates would be in agreement that Medicaid expansion, at least from their perspective, is an unequivocal good," the IWF analyst poses. "In fact, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) suggests Medicare for everyone, and the only ObamaCare discussion in the [Democratic] debate was whether or not undocumented immigrants should have access to the benefits in Obamacare."
"But ultimately," Manning concludes, "once the two parties get their nominees together, I think we'll have a very fierce debate about the role of government in the healthcare sector, including Medicaid, Medicare, and ObamaCare."