Warnock, Ossoff push Medicaid-like plan for low-income Americans

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 7:34 AM EDT
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ATLANTA - Three Democratic U.S. senators from states that have refused to expand Medicaid want the federal government to set up a mirror plan to provide health insurance coverage to people in those states.

Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin outlined a bill they planned to introduce as Democrats push for a coverage expansion in upcoming legislation.

“I believe health care is a right, and the Medicaid Saves Lives Act would ensure Georgians and other Americans with low incomes who would qualify for Medicaid in most other states finally have access to the health care they need to keep our communities and economy moving forward,” Warnock said in a statement.

President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul envisioned states would expand Medicaid programs to cover many poorer adults. But 12 conservative states have balked and a voter-approved expansion in Missouri is in limbo.

From left: Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
From left: Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.(WRDW)

The Medicaid Saves Lives Act would direct the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to create and run a federal Medicaid look-alike program would mirror the full, essential benefits of Medicaid.

The legislation would also add to the significant financial incentives included in the American Rescue Plan for states to expand Medicaid, giving these states an additional and extended federal medical assistance percentage increase.

Since Congress already appropriated funding for Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act, the federal program in the Medicaid Saves Lives Act has already been funded once and requires no additional offsets, the senators said.

The senators said there are an estimated 275,000 Georgians — including 47% of whom are Black, 9% of whom are Latino, and 63% are working families — in the coverage gap.

“Our state government’s refusal to expand Medicaid has sentenced countless Georgians to needless suffering and contributed to the closure of nine Georgia hospitals in the last decade,” said Ossoff said in a statement.

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