Abstract

Six states that have rejected the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Medicaid expansion nonetheless extended the primary care “fee bump,” by which the federal government increased Medicaid fees for primary care services up to 100 percent of Medicare fees during 2013–14. We conducted semistructured interviews with leaders in five of these states, as well as in three comparison states, to examine why they would continue a provision of the ACA that moderately expands access at significant state expense while rejecting the expansion and its large federal match, focusing on relevant economic, political, and procedural factors. We found that fee bump extension proposals were more successful where they were dissociated from major national policy debates, actionable with the input of relatively few stakeholder entities, and well aligned with preexisting policy-making structures and decision trends. Republican proposals to cap or reduce federal funding for Medicaid, if enacted, would compel states to contain program costs. In this context, states' established decision-making processes for updating Medicaid fee schedules, which we elucidate in this study, may shape the future of the Medicaid program.