Spokane Health Organizers Hope Medicaid Expansion Is Approved In State

By Steve Jackson

The expansion of Medicaid in Washington sate is not a done deal yet.  The current makeup of the state senate doesn’t guarantee approval.
 
With the new makeup in the state senate putting Republicans in control , the fate of Medicaid expansion as proposed under President Obama’s medical reform is not a given.
 
Molly Belozer Firth, is with the Community Health Network of Washington:
 
Firth: “We would all like to think Washington state is committed to passing the Medicaid expansion, because the state has been committed to serving the underserved populations, but we have heard legislators raise some specific concerns.”

It’s estimated the expansion will allow 261 thousand low income state residents to receive Medicaid coverage.
 
Here in Spokane, the Office of Insurance estimates there are 70 thousand folks without health insurance.  Expanding Medicaid will allow the local clinics to serve more of those people.  Aaron Wilson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Community Heath association of Spokane, who says besides being able to serve more county residents, the increased funding from Medicaid will help fund expansion of the CHAS clinic system:
 
Wilson: “Roughly 20 thousand of those folks will be come eligible under Medicaid expansion. The reality is a lot of them are being seen, fifteen thousand are being seen, so for us we will get funded for the services we provide those folks."

And while the state has to pick up fifty percent of the tab for current Medicaid patients, Molly Belozer Firth for those covered under the new Medicaid expansion the Federal Government will initially cover one hundred percent:
 
Firth: “So eventually the federal government will start to phase how much they pay , and they will phase it down to 90 percent, so for the Medicaid expansion, for the federal government to pick up the tab is a fantastic deal for the state of Washington and for other states.”

Firth says the State will have to pick up ten percent of the share by the year 2020.But for now, if the Medicaid expansion is approved by the legislature, it will mean one billion dollars in Federal funding for the next biennium.
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