Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday he plans to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for more state residents under Obamacare.
While the Republican governor opposes Obamacare overall, he said expanding Medicaid will save the state money in the short-run, even though it will place a burden on Nevada’s general fund over the long run, reports the Las Vegas Sun
The U.S. Supreme Court this summer upheld the federal health care law, but states were given the option reject an expansion of Medicaid, which covers low-income families and single adults without children.
Sandoval, however, chose to expand coverage under pressure from health care professionals and advocates for the poor, the Sun reported.
“Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” Sandoval said in a written statement. “As such, I am forced to accept it as today’s reality and I have decided to expand Nevada’s Medicaid coverage.”
The federal government pays 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years, which will add $712 million to Nevada state coffers. In four years, however, the state will have share the cost of administering the program and pay for a portion of the medical costs as well.
According to the Sun, if the Sandoval had rejected the expansion, it would have cost the state’s general fund more money.
State officials expect nearly 70,000 low-income residents to enroll in the expanded program, costing Nevada $84 million. But expanding Medicaid will also allow Nevada to move some indigent patients with mental health or substance abuse problems off state-funded programs and into Medicaid, saving the state close to $17 million.
Sandoval said he plans to ask the legislature to pass a law requiring Medicaid recipients to share the costs of the program. He didn’t say how much he would seek, but one Republican legislator has mentioned making recipients pay a small co-pay for doctor’s appointments.
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