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Washington Governor Urges Expansion Of Medicaid 'Quickly'

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to move “quickly” to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. At a news conference Wednesday, the Democratic governor described expansion as a “no brainer” that will save the state money.

Inslee says Medicaid expansion will save the state of Washington $142 million over the next two years and lead to 250,000 more people insured. He also argued it could lead to 10,00 direct and indirect jobs in the state. In pointed language, Inslee called on Republican legislators to move beyond their opposition to Obama-care.

“This is as close as what you might call a ‘no brainer’ as there is in state government,” the governor said.

But Senator Majority Leader Rodney Tom disagrees with the governor that time is of the essence. Tom is a Democrat who leads a Republican-dominated coalition. He says they’re “looking carefully” at Medicaid expansion.

“If we’re going to go that direction, we need to do it in a measured way so that it does not create an entitlement.”

When the expansion kicks in in 2014, the federal government will foot 100 percent of the bill to expand Medicaid. But overtime that would ratchet down to 90 percent.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."