Sebelius to Mayors: Push to Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

Image: Sebelius to Mayors: Push to Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 07:18 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked about 25 mayors attending a D.C. conference to press their state legislators to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, The Hill reported Wednesday.

"I'd like to start this conversation by taking a pragmatic look — this is the law and there are benefits people are entitled to under the law, and also an opportunity to expand Medicaid under the law," Sebelius said in a speech at the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, in Washington.

"I think that your role is in helping to educate the residents of your community that they might be eligible for the first time to obtain healthcare, but also to have a very significant voice in the Medicaid debate taking place in your legislature is critically important."

Sebelius said that so far 30 states — 10 of them run by Republican governors — have either accepted the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare or worked with the administration to design an expansion for its specific needs.

As an example, Sebelius said Florida's uninsured rate is at 23 percent — the second-highest in the country — and that about half of those would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion, which would give $51 billion in federal aid to the Sunshine State over the next decade.

Sebelius reiterated that the Affordable Care Act is "100 percent paid for" by the federal government in the first year and that most states, in future years, will pay only 10 percent.

It's the "single most generous federal-state partnership I've ever seen," she said. She also noted that the number of people who were eligible for low-income health insurance increased in December.

Republicans have been outspoken in their disdain for Obamacare.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said last year. "There is no such thing as free money. We know there's only money that's collected from taxpayers, and money borrowed from other countries like China against the good credit of our children and grandchildren."

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