Legislation closing a loophole in the Obama health care bill, that would have provide Medicaid to three million new individuals, was signed President Obama on Monday.
The provision, which was found after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, would not have included Social Security benefits as income for the purposes of determining eligibility for Medicaid, resulting in millions of more individuals being eligible for services.
Caught in the middle were about 1.8 million people with disabilities currently receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Though people receiving SSDI are eligible for Medicare after two years, the loophole would have made them eligible for Medicaid benefits. The provision dates back to 1972, when Congress extended Medicare to include people with disabilities. It was enacted as an incentive for employers to continue hiring people with disabilities.
Though Republicans overwhelmingly supported the legislation, as did the White House, only 27 Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to close the loophole last month.
Many legislators tried to eliminate the waiting period during the health care discussions, but ran into concerns about the increased price tag.
“It was too heavy a lift to do it with this bill,” said a spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who for years has led the charge in the Senate to phase out the waiting period, in the Hill.