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North Dakota Lawmakers Take Up Medicaid Expansion

PHOTO: AARP North Dakota State Director Janis Cheney says expanding Medicaid would allow up to 30,000 more poor North Dakotans to access health care. Courtesy AARP-ND.

PHOTO: AARP North Dakota State Director Janis Cheney says expanding Medicaid would allow up to 30,000 more poor North Dakotans to access health care. Courtesy AARP-ND.


January 30, 2013

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota lawmakers will take testimony today as they consider whether the state should expand its Medicaid program.

AARP North Dakota is among the groups that support the expansion, says state director Janis Cheney.

"It is a significant enhancement of services that will impact North Dakotans who are currently not making enough money to afford insurance or don't have health insurance services," she says.

If North Dakota expands its Medicaid program, Cheney says another 30,000 people in the state would be eligible for coverage. In addition, the federal government would cover all the costs for the first three years and the majority of costs after that.

Being able to take advantage of federal funding while improving the health of thousands of North Dakotans will bring returns, Cheney says.

"The very bottom line on the Medicaid expansion is that it is the right thing to do for people in our state who currently do not have access to health care," she says. "And it would impact particularly people who are making $15,000 (a year) or less; and there would be very minimal cost to the state."

Also on the radar for AARP this legislative session, says Cheney, is retirement security, property tax relief and providing more options for North Dakotans to live safely at home.

"In other words," she says, "strengthening our system of home- and community-based services so that people can take advantage of, usually, much less expensive services for older adults and people with disabilities - that allow them to stay in their home, to continue living with independence."

For providing options and support for seniors to live in their own homes, Cheney says, North Dakota consistently ranks near the bottom of the states.

More information is online at hca.wa.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND