Bill Expanding Medicaid Gets Preliminary Hearing

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By Liz Blood

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Democratic proposal to expand Medicaid in Iowa is coming up for debate in a Senate subcommittee.

Lawmakers are scheduled to debate the plan from Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch on Monday. The legislation would broaden state eligibility requirements for Medicaid, which covers low-income residents, including children and the disabled. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul provides funding to states that expand Medicaid.

Hatch has been a vocal advocate for the expansion, saying it will help low-income Iowans. But Gov. Terry Branstad opposes an expansion, based on the potential cost.

Under the plan, the Medicaid eligibility limit would be raised to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 annually for an individual. If expanded, as many as 150,000 people could be added to Iowa's Medicaid rolls.

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