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What is a Medicaid expansion?

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Quick Answer

A Medicaid expansion is an increase in federal funding to a state Medicaid plan, which allows state Medicaid plans to cover more individuals with higher incomes. Medicaid expansion is also designed to improve Medicaid programs. As of 2014, the most recent Medicaid expansions came about with the Affordable Care Act.

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Full Answer

Under the Affordable Care Act, each state can decide whether or not to expand its Medicaid program. If each state accepted the expansion as designed, about 17 million more Americans could qualify for Medicaid in their state. The expansion also creates a standard income eligibility throughout the country. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is covered by federal funding 100 percent, decreasing to 90 percent over time. The expansion also includes funding for increased information technology capability in order to handle the additional influx of Medicaid participants.

Changes also included in the Act relate to quality-of-care improvements, increased coordination with Medicare, higher availability of long-term care, increased provider fraud prevention efforts, focus on preventive care and improvements to the Children's Health Insurance Program. Initially, if a state declined additional federal funding under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would withdraw other Medicaid funding. This provision was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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