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Feds indicate support for Medicaid expansion alternatives

The federal government is working with states that want to subsidize private insurance for low-income families as opposed to adding them to the Medicaid program, the New York Times is reporting.

That bodes well for the Florida Senate's plan to create a new health care program for the state's uninsured while still drawing down an estimated $55 billion in federal funding. Although these alternatives to expansion may be slightly more costly than Medicaid, the federal government has indicated to several states that it is open to their ideas and will work with them to make it work.

Here is more from the New York Times' report:

The White House is encouraging skeptical state officials to expand Medicaid by subsidizing the purchase of private insurance for low-income people, even though that approach might be somewhat more expensive, federal and state officials say.

Ohio and Arkansas are negotiating with the Obama administration over plans to use federal Medicaid money to pay premiums for commercial insurance that will be sold to the public in regulated markets known as insurance exchanges.

Republicans in other states, including Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Texas, have expressed interest in the option since Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, a Democrat, received a green light from Kathleen Sebelius, the federal secretary of health and human services.

Valerie Jarrett, a top White House aide, has been a catalyst in talks with Ohio and other states.

Read more here.