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How States Are Expanding Medicaid to Low-Income Adults Through Section 1115 Waiver Demonstrations

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In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision making state expansion of Medicaid to more adults optional under the Affordable Care Act, several states have received approval to combine such expansion with broader Medicaid reforms. They are doing so under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act, which authorizes Medicaid demonstrations that further program objectives. State demonstrations approved so far combine expanded adult coverage with changes in that coverage and in how the states deliver and pay for health care. These states have focused especially on expanding the use of private health insurance, requiring beneficiaries to pay premiums, and incentivizing them to choose cost-effective care. By enabling states to link wider program reforms to the adult expansion, Section 1115 has allowed them to better align Medicaid with local political conditions while extending insurance to more than 1 million adults who would otherwise lack a pathway to coverage.


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Publication Details

Publication Date: December 19, 2014
Author: Sara Rosenbaum, and Carla Hurt
Contact: Sara Rosenbaum, Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy, Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University
Citation: S. Rosenbaum and C. Hurt, How States Are Expanding Medicaid to Low-Income Adults Through Section 1115 Waiver Demonstrations, The Commonwealth Fund, December 2014.