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December 31, 2013

Medicaid growth creates gap of 5M without coverage

HARRISBURG, Pa. — About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.

They make up a coverage gap in President Barack Obama’s signature health care law created by the domino effects of last year’s Supreme Court ruling and states’ subsequent policy decisions.

The court effectively left it up to states to decide whether to open Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled, to more people, primarily poor working adults without children.

Twenty-five states declined. That leaves 4.8 million people in those states without the health care coverage that their peers elsewhere are getting through the expansion of Medicaid, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate. More than one-fifth of them live in Texas alone, Kaiser’s analysis found.

Among those in the gap is Cheryl Jones, a 61-year-old part-time home-care worker from Erie, Pa., who makes do without health insurance by splitting in half pills for high blood pressure, which she gets from a friend, not a pharmacist. She’d also like to visit a dentist to fix her broken partial dentures. A new pair of glasses might be nice, too.

“There are a lot of us who need medical help now,” she said. “I need new glasses, I need to go to a dentist, I need my medicine. ... Think about us working poor. We pay our taxes.”

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