Chris Christie Expected To Propose Medicaid Expansion: Report

TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 08:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses state legislators during his State of the State Addre
TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 08: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addresses state legislators during his State of the State Address in the Assembly Chamber at the Statehouse on January 8, 2013 in Trenton, New Jersey. The popular Republican governor called on Congress to quickly approve more disaster aid for the state, more than two months after Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is expected to propose this afternoon that his state expand its Medicaid program to more poor people under President Barack Obama's health care reform law, according to a report by the Newark Star-Ledger. The Republican governor is speaking before the state legislature at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Citing a top state senator who had been briefed on the Governor's decision, the Associated Press also reported Tuesday that Christie would back this key element of President Barack Obama's health care reform.

He would be the eighth Republican governor to do so, joining Florida's Rick Scott, Ohio's John Kasich and others in agreeing to expand Medicaid, a joint federal-state health care program for the poor and people with disabilities. The health care reform law seeks to make Medicaid benefits available to anyone earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year.

Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation last November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicts.

The federal government will pay the full cost of insuring newly eligible people from 2014 through 2016 under the health care reform law expansion. That share declines over over several years until it reaches 90 percent in 2022 and beyond. For other people on Medicaid, including children, pregnant women and those with disabilities, the federal government pays states an average of 57 percent of the expenses.

Update: This story has been updated with additional reporting from the Associated Press.

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