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Originally published September 20, 2012 at 6:11 PM | Page modified September 21, 2012 at 6:58 AM

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Inslee would embrace Medicaid expansion as governor

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate said the Medicaid expansion will have financial benefits by covering all the uncompensated care that occurs in hospitals.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee is fully embracing the expansion of Medicaid health coverage, saying Thursday he believes it is one of the transformational parts of President Obama's health-care law.

In outlining his health-care plans, Inslee said the Medicaid expansion will have financial benefits by covering all the uncompensated care that occurs in hospitals. The federal government will cover all the costs of the newly eligible enrollees, with the state picking up some of the tab eventually.

"The Affordable Care Act is a landmark bill for many reasons — chief among them is the generous financial support to states for the expansion of Medicaid," Inslee's campaign says in a policy paper.

Republicans are concerned that the Medicaid expansion will burden the state with a huge expense. They note that the expansion is expected to bring out other people who are already eligible but not yet enrolled — immediately adding new members not fully covered by the federal government.

The GOP also worries that the federal government won't live up to its obligations in the long run, shifting more of the cost burden onto the states in the future.

Inslee's GOP rival, Rob McKenna, has noted that the expansion will make roughly one-third of the state eligible for Medicaid. He hasn't explicitly said how he will handle the expansion.

State officials are working on a model to determine the ultimate cost of the Medicaid growth.

Inslee's health-care policy paper also includes a focus on patient outcomes, instead of paying providers a fee for each medical service. He also wants state employees to have incentives for improving health and better management of chronic conditions.

To target childhood obesity, Inslee plans to work to improve the quality of food in school cafeterias and vending machines.

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