GOP senator: Medicaid expansion 'better be' preserved

Obamacare bill secure location Sen Shelley Capito NewDay_00001412
Obamacare bill secure location Sen Shelley Capito NewDay_00001412

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    Will new health plan keep Medicaid expansion?

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Will new health plan keep Medicaid expansion? 01:52

Story highlights

  • Capito argued that Medicaid expansion "is important to 31 states"
  • A divide exists among Republican governors and congressional conservatives over the issue

Washington (CNN)A Republican senator from West Virginia is insisting that Medicaid expansion be preserved in the GOP's Obamacare replacement proposal.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's comments on CNN's "New Day" Friday morning highlight the persistent divisions among conservatives over how to address the health law. She defended her state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- an especially divisive component of the health law among Republicans.
Asked by co-host Chris Cuomo if Medicaid expansion would be preserved in the GOP plan, Capito was terse: "It better be."
    "I have been very forceful in repeatedly saying that the expansion of Medicaid is tremendously important to 184,000 West Virginians. That is something -- every time we talk about how has it moved to change -- I am constantly talking about," she said.
    Capito argued that Medicaid expansion "is important to 31 states," citing "Republican governors that have expanded" the program. "I'd like to have the waivers and have more flexibility for our governors to be able to meet the challenges not only on the health outcome side but the expense side."
    Republicans have been debating how to fairly treat states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in a replacement plan for the health care law. A divide exists among Republican governors -- who have expanded the program in their states and depend on enhanced federal funding -- and congressional conservatives, who want to reduce funding and transition the program to block grants or a fixed funding stream based on enrollment.
    Those governors have grown increasingly skittish about the fate of their low-income residents who gained coverage under Medicaid expansion, as well as the future. Some 11 million adults are now insured in the 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, that expanded Medicaid. Sixteen of those states are run by Republicans.
    At their annual conference last weekend, governors heard presentations from consulting firms McKinsey & Co. and Avalere Health. The analyses, first reported by Vox, showed many low-income residents could lose access to Medicaid coverage under the Republicans' plan to change federal funding levels.