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Branstad affirms no Medicaid expansion

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2013 at 10:34 am •  Published: February 23, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad said Saturday that he has told U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he will not expand Medicaid in Iowa.

Branstad met with Sebelius Friday in Washington, and in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press the governor said he again rejected an expansion of Medicaid in Iowa.

Branstad said he pressed Sebelius for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low income adults in the state. That program is set to expire later this year.

"I am very comfortable that we have made the right decision and we are going to continue to pursue this waiver and we're working with them on a partnership exchange and that's what I told Secretary Sebelius," Branstad said between meetings as part of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. "We are interested in making Iowa the healthiest state. We have kind of set our direction."

A growing number of Republican governors have proposed accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults, a key part of the Obama administration's health care overhaul. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Florida Gov. Rick Scott are among those now backing an expansion.

But other Republican governors have taken a similar position as Branstad, who noted that each state is different.

"Every governor has got to look at their own situation," Branstad said. "We're fortunate in that we don't have as many uninsured that a lot of other states do."

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