White House says it will work with GOP guvs on Medicaid

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 2, 2014 

The White House said Thursday it's willing to work with Republican governors who don't want to expand Medicaid but want to boost health insurance coverage for the poor.

Speaking on a conference call, deputy senior White House advisor David Simas said the administration is willing to work with states "in crafting solutions that meet the needs of their constituents and the unique needs of each individual state."

He noted governors in Iowa and Arkansas have enacted different models -- Iowa is offering its poorest residents Medicaid while using federal Medicaid dollars to subsidize private insurance for people who earn between 101 percent and 133 percent of poverty, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald

"At the end of the day, what we are interested in is that people have coverage, that people have the security and peace of mind that comes from knowing that they have coverage," Simas said. "Not a one-size-fits-all solution for all states. And, I think what we did, working with the governor in Iowa, working with the governor in Arkansas with his private option, I think is a perfect example of our willingness to do that."

Simas spoke as the White House kicked off an effort to tout the health care plan on a state-by-state basis, featuring an Atlanta woman who said she purchased better insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who also spoke on the call said Democrats in the state plan to make it known that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal could make the decision to expand Medicaid in the state.

"I do think that there will be a concerted effort not only among the political class but among citizens and community groups who all understand this really is about helping Georgians get back to work, about helping Georgians get access to health care," Abrams said.

Abrams said she's helped hold 42 town hall meetings across the state and has found interest in the program at everyone of them.

"Almost universally what we have found at every one of these meetings, whether the person attending is Democrat or Republican, whether it's urban Atlanta or rural south Georgia, what we keep finding is that people want to know how they can get coverage, how they can take care of themselves, take care of their families," she said.

Still, a Gallup poll found uninsured Americans who have visited a health insurance exchange website say their experience was negative rather than positive, by 59 percent to 39 percent.

That reading, from Gallup Daily tracking through December, is only a slight improvement from Gallup's combined October and November polling, when 63 percent reported a negative experience and 33 percent a positive one.

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