Closing Medicaid coverage gap may aid 2.2 million uninsured Americans

Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) introduced a bill that would close the Medicaid coverage gap and ensure over 2.2 million uninsured people in 12 states can access health coverage.

The bill, a companion to one proposed by Senators Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff and Baldwin, would create a federal direct coverage option to people with incomes at or below 138 percent Federal Poverty Level in the 12 states where state leaders continue to deny Medicaid expansion, harming people’s health and financial security.

Just recently, new research was released showing that in states that did not expand Medicaid, people owed an average of $375 more in medical debt than those in states with Medicaid expansion.

The Medicaid Saves Lives Act comes as part of an increasing drumbeat to close the Medicaid gap at the federal level, including the introduction of the same bill last week in the Senate.

Because of systemic racism and discriminatory barriers to financial security, 60 percent of people in the Medicaid coverage gap are Black and brown people.

In late June, more than 200 organizations from the 12 non-expansion states called on President Joe Biden and Congress to support a federal solution to provide coverage to the people caught in the Medicaid coverage gap.

“It’s unconscionable that a person making $16,000 and living in Alabama has no access to affordable health coverage, but if they moved to Oklahoma, they would be eligible for Medicaid coverage,” said Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst, in recognition of cruelty and unfairness the Medicaid coverage gap.

“Having access to life-saving health care shouldn’t depend on which state you live in,” said Stewart, who said 2.2 million Americans live in states where they health insurance coverage through Medicaid.

Stewart said 60 percent of people in the Medicaid coverage gap are Black and brown people.

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