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Medicaid expansion update: Two states step forward, two step in place

Efforts in Wyoming and Alaska appear to be moving forward, but Pennsylvania and Montana may be stalling.

Several states are making news with their plans to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid expansion in Wyoming and Alaska appears to be moving forward, but efforts in Pennsylvania and Montana may be stalling.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) says he will push to expand the state's Medicaid program even though he was one of several state leaders to sue the Obama administration over the ACA.

He urges the Wyoming legislature to pass a Medicaid expansion proposal that would require all Medicaid recipients make co-payments, with higher-income members paying premiums up to $50.

"As I see where we are, I think we have to be realistic and say this is the current law of the land. We need to either go forward with this or, if the legislature wants to come up with a different plan, I certainly would be open to that," Mead said during a recent press conference, reported the Casper Star-Tribune.

Although Pennsylvania just opened enrollment for its newly expanded Medicaid program, which uses private insurers to administer the plans, it's uncertain how long the private option will be available. Incoming Gov. Tom Wolf (D) says he prefers a standard Medicaid expansion that doesn't use private insurers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

"There will be some fairly quick shifts," said Estelle Richman, Wolf's Medicaid adviser. "My hope is that we are pretty far down that road" within the first few months of 2015. However, she clarified that "whoever has enrolled, their coverage will not be interrupted."

Meanwhile, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) plans to promote his Medicaid expansion plan, reported KTVA. "I told you that expanding Medicaid was a high priority for me," he said during his inauguration speech Monday. "We will begin the wheels in motion today to begin accepting expanded Medicaid."

In Montana, Medicaid expansion remains in limbo as state legislators decide whether to approve or deny Gov. Steve Bullock's (D) proposal, the Billings Gazette reported. "There'll be some type of Medicaid expansion," said Jim Ahrens, a lobbyist with Alliance for a Healthy Montana. "But conservative legislators will not pass a full government expansion."

To learn more:
- read the Casper Star-Tribune article
- see the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
- check out the KTVA article
- read the Billings Gazette article

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