Senate Democrats Introduce Medicaid Expansion Alternative

As Democrats in Congress move toward passing an ambitious economic agenda, much is undecided about health care — including how the federal government might further push holdout states to expand Medicaid. Experts say the shape of any changes to Medicaid is still forming, and that a new bill introduced by Democratic Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin is highly preliminary.

The Medicaid bill, titled the Medicaid Saves Lives Act (MSLA), was introduced July 12, and its main policy would be creating “a program to provide health care coverage to low-income adults in States that have not expanded Medicaid,” according to text released by Warnock’s office. The bill was introduced as Democratic leadership agreed to a $3.5 trillion budget framework that includes much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Bill Wouldn’t Require Any State Spending

Neither Georgia nor Wisconsin has enacted Medicaid expansion, despite extra incentives to do so that were included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), a coronavirus pandemic relief bill. The new bill notably does not require any state expenditures to operate the new program, which means it would bypass the vociferous state-level political argument against Medicaid expansion by conservatives.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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