June 13, 2018
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today introduced the Smart Choices Act to quantify the impact of Medicaid expansion both for states that expanded and those that did not. The bill would require the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) to publish an annual report on the estimated impact in each state, including the amount of federal funding that has been passed up by states that have not yet expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care, but by refusing to expand Medicaid in Alabama, we’ve turned down an estimated $14 billion of our own tax dollars and needlessly left more than 200,000 Alabamians without health coverage,” said Senator Jones. “This legislation will shed light on the extent to which failing to expand Medicaid is costing taxpayers and expediting the closure of our rural hospitals. Every year, Alabamians send hard-earned tax dollars to Washington – let’s bring billions of those dollars back to our state and put them to good use for a healthier workforce and a stronger economy.”
Under the Smart Choices Act, beginning in Fiscal Year 2019, MACPAC would publish an annual report estimating the amount of federal funding that each expansion state will receive for the fiscal year for medical assistance provided to qualifying individuals; and the anticipated number of people who will be covered by the state’s Medicaid program during the same period.
For each non-expansion state, the annual report will estimate the amount of additional federal funds the state would receive for the fiscal year if the state expanded coverage; and the number of additional people who would receive access to affordable, comprehensive coverage under the state Medicaid plan if the state expanded.
Senator Jones’ legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
In addition to introducing the Smart Choices Act, Senator Jones will also cosponsor the States Achieve Medicaid Expansion (SAME) Act of 2017, a bill led by Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.). The SAME Act would provide each state expanding its Medicaid program with the same levels of federal matching funds, regardless of when it chooses to expand the program. This means that a state like Alabama would receive the same funding deal from the federal government if it expanded Medicaid today as a state that took the deal before 2014. Under current law, states that expand Medicaid after 2014 receive lower federal matching rates.
Speaking about his decision to cosponsor the bill, Senator Jones said, “We need to bring every possible tax dollar back home to Alabama that we can and at the same time make sure that our most vulnerable Alabamians get access to health care. This legislation eliminates the last argument against Medicaid expansion and ensures that every state gets the same deal from the federal government. I’m proud to cosponsor Senator Warner’s legislation and show leaders in the state that we can put the people of Alabama first and do so in a fiscally responsible way for our state.”