Federal official touts Medicaid expansion - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Federal official touts Medicaid expansion

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A top federal official touted lives saved through Medicaid expansion at a Madison health conference Monday, days after Governor Walker rejected federal money for such expansion.

U.S. Health and Human Services Regional Director Kenneth Munson said a recent study shows every additional 500,000 increase in Medicaid rolls results in 27,000 lives saved.

Munson noted Florida Governor Rick Scott recently accepted federal money for Medicaid expansion, despite having been a staunch critic of the Affordable Care Act. The act encompasses the Medicaid expansion option. Munson said Florida is one of five states accounting for fifty percent of the country's medically uninsured population.

Earlier this month, Walker announced a rejection of the expansion, but launched a hybrid approach, by proposing moving nearly 90,000 Medicaid-eligible adults to coming, federal health insurance exchanges. Walker said people being shifted to the exchanges could still obtain health insurance with premiums as low as $19 per month.

Munson said minimum requirements on health care options for recipients would be similar for those on Medicaid, and in the federal health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces.  Munson said differences in coverage and cost would kick-in as recipients in the federal health care exchanges select available, private health insurance plan options.

Bobby Peterson ABC for Health said Medicaid has some health care programs for children with higher levels of medically necessary care, than what will be available on the exchanges or marketplaces.

As opposed to Wisconsin operating its own health insurance exchanges, Walker has opted to allow the federal government to operate exchanges here. Munson said about half of the state have committed to operating their own health exchanges.

Munson told health care stakeholders recent rule adoptions will protect against attempts to dodge the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. As an example, Munson cited a prohibition against an insurance company covering a colonoscopy, but refusing to cover the removal of any polyp found during the diagnostic procedure.

Munson also acknowledged some businesses may try to avoid having the Affordable Care Act apply to their enterprises by reducing full-time workers to part-timers. ACA applies to firms with fifty or more full-time employees, as defined as thirty hours per week. Munson said the eligibility is based on full-time equivalent workers, with part-time worker hours added together.

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