Iowa Hospital Officials Voted Unanimously To Expand Medicaid

Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA)

Although Republican governors across the country have pledged to reject the expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare — turning down nearly $300 billion in federal funds and leaving millions of low-income Americans without coverage — they are standing in direct opposition to medical professionals. Hospital officials across the country have advocated for expanding the program to extend coverage to Americans with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line.

Hospital officials in Iowa unanimously support expanding the Medicaid program in their state, warning that Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R-IA) decision to turn down the funds will have “crippling” effects on their hospitals:

The Iowa Hospital Association board recently voted unanimously to support expansion of Medicaid, which it termed a “historic opportunity to significantly address the plight of uninsured Iowans.” Association members plan to aggressively lobby legislators on the subject.

The group said turning down the federal money could cripple hospitals. The association said hospital leaders nationally agreed to billions of dollars in Medicare payment cuts because they expected the overall health reform program to relieve them of much of the financial burden of caring for people who now lack health insurance. […]

Cuts to that program “are real, whether or not a state chooses to expand its Medicaid program,” the hospital association said. If Medicaid is not expanded, the hospitals would lose $2.3 billion in Medicare money over the next decade while still bearing much of the cost of caring for poor, uninsured patients, the association said.

In response to the hospital association’s vote, Branstad’s office reiterated the governor’s position against Medicaid expansion, saying his previous comments on the issue illustrate why he remains opposed to expanding the program. “We’re willing to help people who are willing to help themselves. But we’re certainly not going to buy into this federal effort,” Branstad said last month. “We’re going to fight it in every way we can.”

Other states also understand the benefits of Medicaid expansion. In Missouri, hospital officials report that hospitals would stand to lose up to $400 million if Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) decides against implementing the expansion. In Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has already pledged to reject the federal funds for Medicaid, state officials are taking matters into their own hands and considering setting up their own expansions of the program on a local level. If GOP governors hold firm in their opposition to the program’s expansion, despite the increasing popular support for Obamacare’s Medicaid provision among both the general public and healthcare employees, more states may follow Texas’ example.