DENVER (AP) — An expansion of Medicaid eligibility that's expected to add 160,000 adults to public health care assistance in Colorado was signed into law Monday.
The expansion is part of the federal health care overhaul that 22 states and Washington, D.C., have accepted as of last week.
Supporters of the expansion say it will reduce health care costs in the long run.
"Because we know that the healthier we keep our population, the better we control our costs," said Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, a sponsor of the Colorado bill.
But most Republicans voted against the expansion, saying the state's cost can balloon once the federal government stops paying for growing the program. The federal government covers the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years.
"We can't afford it," said Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg, of Berthoud. Colorado will be on the hook "down the road for Medicaid dollars we don't have," he said.
Fourteen states have rejected the Medicaid expansion, which was made optional by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year on the federal health care law. Another 14 states were still deciding whether to expand as of last week.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed his state's measure Monday afternoon outside the Capitol.
"This is going to support working Coloradoans and improve economic security for individuals and families and ultimately even for businesses," he said.