Iowa’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Gets Federal Approval

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaks during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's Friends of the Family Banquet in Des Moines Iowa Saturday Nov. 9, 2013 (AP Photo by Justin Hayworth)
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The Obama administration has approved Iowa’s alternative plan for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare — but with one important tweak, which state officials will have to sign off on.

The approval was first reported by the Washington Post. A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who proposed the alternative plan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Branstad had asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow the state to use Medicaid expansion money to pay for people to purchase private health coverage on — similiar to what Arkansas had already received approval for. That would cover people between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. People below the poverty level would be covered by a modified version of the state’s traditional Medicaid program.

But Iowa also wanted to require those covered by the expansion to contribute money toward their coverage. CMS said Tuesday that Iowa could implement that requirement for people above the poverty line, but not for people below it.

State officials have 30 days to accept or appeal the administration’s ruling, according to CMS. Medicaid expansion is expected to cover up to 150,000 Iowans.

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