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WASHINGTON — The GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would overhaul Medicaid, the low-income insurance program that covers 70 million Americans. But within that plan, there is another little-discussed change that could have an outsized impact — and stick the poor with big medical bills.

Right now, individuals who sign up for Medicaid can get their medical care covered by the program retroactively. That coverage goes back as much as three months before they applied for the program, as long as recipients would have been eligible for the program that entire time.


Experts say that’s an important protection for people in Medicaid, who are generally living in or near poverty, because they often don’t know that they’re eligible for the program until they get sick and go to the hospital or a doctor. It also protects people in case they experience any delays in the application and enrollment process.

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