KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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As Governor Seeks To Revamp Health Policies, Survey Shows Ky. Leads On Reducing Uninsured Rate

A new Gallup-Healthways survey shows that Kentucky and Arkansas had the largest drops in the rate of uninsured residents. This comes as the new Republican governor is seeking to pull back Kentucky's aggressive program. Also in the news, a lawsuit by Alaska legislators seeking to roll back the Medicaid expansion program there heads to court today, and a Democratic lawmaker in Utah is seeking a state vote on the issue.

The Associated Press: Kentucky Tops Coverage Gains As GOP Looks To Remake Medicaid
As Gov. Matt Bevin prepares to remake Kentucky’s Medicaid program, a new national survey shows what’s at stake: gains in insurance coverage matched only by one other state. Kentucky and Arkansas had the largest drops in the percentage of people without health insurance in the country, according to the Gallup-Healthways survey. In 2013, more than 20 percent of Kentuckians did not have health insurance. By the end of 2015, after the state expanded its Medicaid program and created a health-insurance exchange, that figure was down to 7.5 percent. (Beam and Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/4)

Alaska Public Radio: Court Will Hear Oral Arguments On Medicaid Expansion
The issue of Medicaid expansion will be back before a Superior Court in Anchorage Thursday morning. The Republican led Legislative Council sued last summer to stop Governor Bill Walker from unilaterally expanding Medicaid. In late August, Judge Frank Pfiffner ruled against a preliminary injunction that would have blocked Medicaid expansion from starting on Sep. 1st. Now both sides will get a chance to make their full oral arguments in front of the judge. Senate Majority leader John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole, says the Governor didn’t give the legislature enough time to come to its own decision on Medicaid expansion. (Feidt, 2/3)

The Associated Press: Alaska Judge To Hear Arguments In Medicaid Expansion Case
A state court judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging Alaska Gov. Bill Walker's authority to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. The case centers on whether the expansion population is a mandatory group for coverage under Medicaid or an optional group. The case was brought by the Legislative Council, which is comprised of House and Senate lawmakers. (Bohrer, 2/4)

Salt Lake Tribune: Bill: Utahns Should Be Asked To Weigh In On Medicaid Expansion
A Democratic lawmaker says voters might be able to end the yearslong legislative fight over expanding Medicaid, which would provide health care coverage to more poor Utahns. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, introduced HB275 to create a process to put nonbinding questions on the ballot, and she plans a separate resolution to allow questioning voters this year about Medicaid expansion. It seeks opinions only and would not actually pass legislation. (Davidson, 2/3)

Deseret News: Democrat Wants Utahns To Cast Nonbinding Vote On Medicaid Expansion In November
Arent's bill to establish a procedure for submitting nonbinding questions to voters, HB275, was introduced Wednesday, but a second piece of legislation detailing exactly what she wants them to answer is still being drafted. Polls have shown that Utahns favor Medicaid expansion, but majority House Republicans have stopped two attempts by Gov. Gary Herbert to use the hundreds of millions of dollars available under President Barack Obama's health care law. (Riley Roche, 2/3)

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