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The Basic Health Option: Will It Work for Low-Income Consumers?

By Christine Sebastian,


The Affordable Care Act requires Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the exchanges to operate as seamlessly as possible for enrollees with incomes around 133 percent of poverty. The law provides an option to states, called the Basic Health program, that could minimize the problems that come with having multiple coverage programs—or it could add complications.

This brief provides a framework to help advocates think systematically about the Basic Health option. It explores the problems a Basic Health option might address, and it raises key issues that can affect the direction such a program could take in states with different financial and political constraints.