Governors Explore Private Medicaid Plans

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 02:17 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich and Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas are pushing a plan to use Medicaid expansion funding under Obamacare to help the poor buy private insurance, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Instead of directly expanding the Medicaid program, the governors hope to convince the Obama administration that the private insurers can provide more efficient and perhaps less costly coverage than the Medicaid program can provide.

“We all see this as a complete 90-degree turn toward the right direction,“ Arkansas GOP House Speaker Davy Carter told the Journal.

Both Beebe and Kasich have embraced the idea of expanding the Medicaid program in their states, but are facing resistance from Republican state legislators, who have argued that the private sector can provide care more efficiently than government-run Medicaid.

Federal law already allows states to use Medicaid dollars to pay the private insurance premiums for low-income people, but only if they can prove the plan provides the same benefits as Medicaid and is more cost-effective.

So far, though, no state has opted to actually pursue that route because of the difficulties in proving private insurance offers the same benefits, according to the Journal.

In addition to Kasich and Beebe, Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell has instructed health officials in his administration to review the private insurance alternative.

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