State officials prepare for Medicaid expansion

July 10, 2013 Ryan Schuster

The North Dakota Department of Human Services is working to prepare for an expansion of Medicaid coverage to more low-income North Dakotans that was approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Maggie Anderson of the state human services department told the state legislature's interim Health Care Reform Review Committee on Tuesday that North Dakota will expand Medicaid coverage either by bidding it out to private insurance companies or by allowing North Dakotans to enroll through the federal health insurance exchange set up through the Affordable Care Act.

Luther Stueland of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota also updated the committee about key provisions in the health care reform law on Tuesday.

Luther Stueland Medicaid Expansion HCR

Luther Stueland of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota testified about health care reform provisions and impacts during a legislative committee meeting on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of The Bismarck Tribune.

North Dakota currently has more than 65,000 Medicaid recipients. The Medicaid expansion, which will take effect on Jan 1, 2014, will provide coverage for all eligible North Dakota adults to age 65 with income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($31,809 for a family of four). It has been estimated that the expansion will extend Medicaid eligibility to an additional 20,000-32,000 North Dakotans who were previously not eligible.

The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the state Medicaid expansion through 2016. North Dakota's share of the expanded coverage will increase in stages and will eventually reach 10 percent, with the federal government still contributing 90 percent. Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government. According to the Families USA nonprofit, for each dollar a state spends on Medicaid, the federal government provides between $1 and more than $3 in matching funds.