Hours after the Supreme Court in 2012 narrowly upheld the Affordable Care Act but rejected making Medicaid expansion mandatory for states, Obama administration officials laughed when asked whether that would pose a problem.
In a White House briefing, top advisers to President Barack Obama told reporters states would be foolish to turn away billions in federal funding to help residents gain the security of health insurance.
Flash-forward nearly a decade, and it’s clear to see the consequences of that ruling. Today, 12 Republican-controlled states have yet to adopt the Medicaid expansion, leaving 2.2 million low-income adult residents uninsured.
Tired of waiting for Republican state lawmakers, congressional Democrats are moving to close the Medicaid coverage gap as they forge a package of new domestic spending that could run as high as $3.5 trillion over 10 years and would significantly enhance other federal health programs. But the cost is raising concerns within the party, and the competition to get initiatives in the package is fierce.
With Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, health experts say this could be the only time such a fix to the Medicaid gap will be possible for many years.