Democratic lawmakers in Oregon are considering ending the state’s Medicaid expansion in an effort to address a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The state’s Ways and Means committee, which includes both senators and representatives, suggested cutting Medicaid expansion in an effort to curb Oregon’s $1.6 billion budget deficit.

“We are simply laying out possibilities for how the state may deal with the stark realities of a projected $1.6 billion deficit,” Rep. Nancy Nathanson, co-chair of the Ways and Means committee said in an email.

Ending Medicaid expansion, which has led to 350,000 people gaining coverage, would save the state $256 million over the next two years.

The Affordable Care Act fully funded Medicaid expansion though the end of 2016, but now the state will foot an increasing share of the costs. The federal match rate falls to 95% in 2017, 94% in 2018, 93% in 2019, and then 90% in 2020 and beyond.

Cutting Medicaid expansion is just one of several possibilities set forward by Ways and Means.

Democrat Gov. Kate Brown said she is hopeful an alternative can be found to avoid this and other proposed cuts on the list. If enacted, they collectively “would put our most vulnerable children and families even more at risk than they are now,” Brown said in an email via a spokesman. “This is unacceptable.”

Hospitals have benefited greatly from Medicaid expansion as they’ve seen uncompensated care costs drop from $1.3 billion in 2013 to $315 million in 2015 according to state data.

“No one knows better than hospitals the positive impact that Medicaid expansion had on the health of Oregonians,” Andy Davidson, president and CEO of the Oregon Hospital Association said in a statement, “We stand firm in our belief that we all must lean in to ensure that we preserve that access and coverage.”

To that end, the association has committed to working with lawmakers to come up with alternative sources of funding so that expansion won’t have to end. He did not provide any specific proposals.

Nathanson said that she and her fellow lawmakers have been working with hospitals and other providers for months to find solutions to fill the hole in Oregon’s budget, but none have been found yet.

“This discussion document is based only on the funds we have available right now,” Nathanson said.

Lawmakers have until July to finalize a budget.

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Oregon lawmakers consider ending Medicaid expansion to shore up budget –