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Medicaid expansion in holdout states would insure millions

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If the remaining 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid do so next year, millions of uninsured individuals would gain coverage, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

The Urban Institute analysis estimates that about 5 million people could gain coverage if the states — as they are allowed to do under the Affordable Care Act — eased Medicaid eligibility requirements.

Under the ACA, the federal government picks up most of the cost of such expansions in which states offer coverage to individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or $33,534 for a family of four — up from the prior 100% of the federal poverty level limit of $24,300 for a family of four.

States which would see the biggest drops in the number of uninsured through easing Medicaid eligibility requirements include Texas, 1.3 million, Florida, 876,000 and Georgia, 529,000, according to the analysis

“Our single biggest opportunity to cover more people would be to expand Medicaid in all 50 states. In the 19 states that have yet to expand, millions still go without insurance,” Kathy Hempstead, senior adviser for health care in Princeton, New Jersey at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which funded the analysis.