Ohio Sen. Portman could be key to Obamacare replacement

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Ohio Sen. Portman could be key to Obamacare replacement

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

Sen. Rob Portman has signed onto a letter expressing worry that the draft Obamacare replacement will not protect those who received Medicaid under the Medicaid expansion programs in the law.

Portman, R-Ohio, joined Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to express worry that the Feb. 10 draft health care plan in the House also does not provide the needed flexibility for states.

“While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states,” the senators wrote.

They also said they were worried that “any poorly implemented” or “poorly timed” change in Medicaid’s funding structure could prevent beneficiaries from having access to life-saving services.

In writing the letter, they’re expressing some of the same worries as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, who fought for Medicaid expansion in the bill and has argued that any repeal and replacement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act must protect those who received Medicaid under the expansion. He said among those who have been helped by the expansion are those who are fighting opioid addiction. Medicaid is the largest payer of mental health and substance use services in the United States.

“We believe Medicaid needs to be reformed, but reform should not come at the cost of disruption in access to health care for our country’s most vulnerable and sickest individuals,” the senators wrote. “Any changes made to how Medicaid is financed through the state and federal governments should be coupled with significant new flexibility so they can efficiently and effectively manage their Medicaid programs to best meet their own needs.”

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