At $15k, her income is too high for Medicaid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today shares the story of Sandra Pico, a Miami mother of one who makes only $15,000 a year, but still doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. Like many, she was expecting the health reform law to help her find coverage, but now could be out of luck if her state fights the law’s Medicaid expansion.
The Supreme Court decision on health reform upheld the law, but said that states can’t be forced into expanding their Medicaid programs to cover low-income adults like Pico. Several states, in protest of “Obamacare” or fearing added costs, have vowed not to go along with the Medicaid expansion.
But the expansion is an important part of covering all Americans. Under the health reform law, the lowest income Americans would get coverage through Medicaid and Americans making more would get subsidies to make sure coverage is affordable. This makes it possible to spread coverage to the millions who have long been uninsured, but only if states agree to expand their Medicaid programs.
Expanding Medicaid makes sense for state governments, too. The federal government will cover 90 percent or more of the costs of the new enrollees for the next several years, so states like Florida would get healthier residents and billions of dollars flowing into their economies for only a very small contribution. As our friends at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have concluded, it’s a great deal for states.