About 3 million early retirees will qualify for Medicaid after the 2014 expansion of the public insurance program because of a change in how income is calculated, according to the Associated Press.
Under the health care law, most Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income in determining eligibility. Because of that, a married couple with a combined annual income of $64,000 would still qualify for the insurance program for the poor.
While Obama administration officials are trying to downplay the loophole that could cost states and the federal government millions, the AP said the situation is keeping the Medicare chief actuary, Richard Foster, awake at night.
“I don’t generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn’t make sense,” Foster said. “This is a situation that got no attention at all. And even now, as I raise the issue with various policymakers, people are not rushing to say... we need to do something about this.”
A Health and Human Services spokesman said the department is exploring options to address the issue. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he also plans to look into the situation, which he called “unacceptable.”
The expansion of Medicaid in 2014 is expected to extend public health insurance to 16 million to 20 million new people. States, who are already making drastic cuts to the state-federal program, complain the federal mandate will drive up costs in the cash-strapped states.