April 24 (Bloomberg) — Expanding Medicaid, the health program for low-income people, would cost states about a third less than an estimate earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office, a Washington-based research group calculated.

Adding low-income adults earning near-poverty incomes to Medicaid, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, would cost states about $46 billion over a decade, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report yesterday based on data from the CBO. In February, the CBO said the expansion would cost states $70 billion.

Medicaid expansion is a key plank in the law's attempt to extend health coverage to the nation's 48 million uninsured people. Twenty-four states, most of them with Republican governors, have rejected the expansion, saying the small share they would have to pay — no more than 10 percent of the cost — is unaffordable.

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