Obama's Revised Health Insurance Plan Expands Medicaid Eligibility

By Susan Jones | February 22, 2010 | 8:42 AM EST

(Editor's note:  Early on Monday morning, the White House Web site was prominently running a summary of President Obama's health care plan, which called for both a public option and a mandate for individuals to purchase insurance. But by mid-morning on Monday, the White House posted a new plan that expands Medicaid, but scraps the earlier call for a public option.)

- Until mid-morning on Monday, President Obama's health insurance plan -- featured prominently on the White House Web site -- included calls for both a government-run health insurance option as well as a requirement that large employers and individuals purchase insurance coverage.
In September, before a joint session of Congress, Obama called for a public health insurance option "to provide the uninsured and those who can't find affordable coverage with a real choice."  Obama said the public option would promote competition and "hold insurance companies accountable." 
Most Republicans flatly oppose any government-run insurance plan.

As of mid-Monday morning, the Associated Press reported that the new White House plan "conspicuously omits a government insurance plan sought by liberals."  According to the AP, "The new White House plan would give the federal government the power to regulate the health insurance industry much like a public utility. The Health and Human Services Department -- in conjunction with state authorities -- would be able to deny egregious premium increases, limit them or demand rebates for consumers."

The new plan posted on the White House Web site does not include a public option per se -- but it would expand Medicaid eligibility to more individuals.

"Starting on January 1, 2014, all low-income, non-elderly and non-disabled individuals will be eligible for Medicaid," the plan says. "This includes unemployed adults and working famlies – all people with income below $29,000 for a family of four (133% of poverty).
"The Federal Government will support States by providing 100% of the cost of newly eligible people between 2014 and 2017, 95% of the costs between 2018 and 2019, and 90 percent matching for subsequent years."

President Obama plans to meet with congressional leaders of both parties on Thursday to discuss ways of achieving health care reform.
Republicans want the president to throw out the Democrat-written plans they’ve opposed all along and start fresh, but it appears that is not going to happen. According to the White House, the president's new proposal "builds off of the legislation that passed the Senate and improves on it by bridging key differences between the House and the Senate as well as by incorporating Republican provisions that strengthen the proposal."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News Sunday he plans to attend Thursday’s meeting, but he also noted there is strong bipartisan opposition to a government-run health care option.
According to McConnell, the American people didn’t like the health care bills that emerged from the House and Senate last year. “They really want to us to shelve this bill and start over, and I hope that's what the president does when he puts this new proposal on the Internet later today or tomorrow,” McConnell said on Sunday.
 “There are a number of things you can do (to lower health care costs) without having the government try to take over one-sixth of the economy,” McConnell added.
Thursday’s health care “summit” meeting in Washington will be televised live on C-SPAN.