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30,000 in ND Could Gain Coverage with Medicaid Expansion

PHOTO: North Dakota is considering a plan to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state, which could allow for up to 30,000 more residents to be covered.
PHOTO: North Dakota is considering a plan to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state, which could allow for up to 30,000 more residents to be covered.
December 4, 2012

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota is considering whether to expand the state's Medicaid program, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Among the supporters of such action is AARP of North Dakota.

Associate State Director for Advocacy Josh Askvig says expanding the program would allow more of those families who are struggling financially to be eligible for coverage.

"It would provide access to approximately 30,000 North Dakotans, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals between the ages of 50 and 64."

Under the Affordable Care Act, each state has the option to expand Medicaid to those who meet certain eligibility requirements.

Askvig says the federal government is providing matching funds to help with the expansion, and the investment on behalf of the state will bring returns. This would be by allowing more people to be able to afford to go in for regular check-ups or when a health issue is just starting to emerge.

"If I can do some preventive screening over here and catch something early and take care of it early, versus having to wait because I didn't have coverage and all of a sudden it's a major surgery or a major procedure that's costly, that certainly would be beneficial not only to an individual, but to all of us as a whole."

Whether North Dakota does move forward with the Medicaid expansion will depend on the governor and state lawmakers, who return to session next month.

"They would have to decide to make the application to the federal government to do the Medicaid expansion. And the reason we need it is that expanding Medicaid is going to help ensure that people have access to care that they might not have had before, and probably are working jobs that may not have access to health benefits or can't afford to purchase it right now."

Currently, 45 percent of all Americans who live under the poverty line are uninsured.

More information is at bit.ly/SHb8NY.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND