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Finance Dems Block GOP Effort to Kill Medicaid Expansion (Again)

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have come up with all sorts of approaches designed to kill the Democrats’ plans to expand Medicaid to cover most everyone living beneath 133 percent of the poverty line, or roughly $29,000 for a family of four.

The latest attempt came late Wednesday from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who pushed an amendment hinging the Medicaid expansion on efforts to rein in program fraud — a problem highlighted by today’s government report revealing that thousands of people have had their prescriptions filled under Medicaid despite the inconvenient fact that they were dead at the time.

Currently, Medicaid fraud represents 10.5 percent of program spending, Cornyn said, citing figures from the Department of Health and Human Services — a considerable sum considering that Medicaid spending topped $330 billion last year. Under the Cornyn amendment, Medicaid officials would have to pull the fraud figure down to 3.9 percent of program spending before the Democrats’ program expansion would kick in.

Democrats didn’t bite. While a worthy goal, they said, the proposal would punish those in line to become newly eligible for Medicaid coverage under the expansion to 133 percent of poverty.

The Cornyn amendment failed 10 to 13, along strict party lines.

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