States ultimately will opt into Medicaid expansion: CMS official

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All states will eventually participate in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion once governors weigh its costs against its benefits, a top Medicaid official predicted Monday.

“I believe when states look at all the factors involved ... they will decide it's in their state interest to take the expansion,” said Cindy Mann during a program sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Mann leads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Center for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program Services.

She stressed that even if states opt not to expand, the ACA requires them to streamline their Medicaid enrollment systems by 2014, the Bureau of National Affairs reported. She confirmed that states have no deadline to commit to expansion.

In a separate panel discussion, Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, remarked that the Supreme Court's Medicaid decision “raised the awareness of and appreciation for Medicaid, what it does, and the role of the states,” BNA reported.

Results of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey appear to bear this out. Two out of every three consumers polled by the foundation said they support extending Medicaid to low-income adults. Support, however, took a dive when pollsters asked if they still agreed with the expansion when they were told that taxpayers would pick up a tenth of the cost.

As part of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the ACA, the court ruled that states could decide for themselves whether to participate in the law's expansion of state health programs for the poor. The law extends benefits to those earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Medicaid pays for the vast majority of skilled nursing care in the United States

Click here to read the full survey results.

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