KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Lawsuits Will Test Whether State Medicaid Plans Must Provide Expensive Hepatitis C Drugs

A handful of lawsuits are seeking to turn around state policies that limit coverage of the drugs for Medicaid enrollees and prisoners. Also, media outlets look at Medicaid news in Alabama, Iowa and Montana.

Stateline: Are States Obligated To Provide Expensive Hepatitis C Drugs?
A handful of federal lawsuits against states that have denied highly effective but costly hepatitis C drugs to Medicaid patients and prisoners could cost states hundreds of millions of dollars. The drugs boast cure rates of 95 percent or better, compared to 40 percent for previous treatments. But they cost between $83,000 and $95,000 for a single course of treatment. (Ollove, 2/9)

AL. com: Governor To Make Major Announcement Tomorrow About Medicaid
Gov. Robert Bentley will make an announcement tomorrow about a transformation of the Medicaid payment system that is expected to control the costs of the program. Federal and state sources would not release any details about the announcement, except that it relates to regional care organizations. For more than a year and a half, officials from the Alabama Medicaid Agency have been negotiating with federal officials about the transition to regional care organizations. Federal authorities must approve the state's plan before officials change the Medicaid system. (Yurkanin, 2/8)

Des Moines Register: Senators Try To Halt Medicaid Privatization Plan
State senators pushed ahead Monday with their plan to reverse privatization of the state’s massive Medicaid program, even though Iowa House Republicans have vowed to block them. A key Senate committee voted to terminate contracts awarded by Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration last year to three national managed-care companies, which are slated to start running the Medicaid program March 1. The Senate Human Resources Committee voted 9-3 on Monday afternoon in favor of Senate Study Bill 3081. Sen. David Johnson was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting for the bill. (Leys and Petroski, 2/8)

Des Moines Register: Branstad: Culver 'Torpedo'-Ing Medicaid Privatization
Gov. Terry Branstad says he views a push by Iowa Senate Democrats to repeal his Medicaid privatization program as a “partisan, political” effort and he’s disappointed that former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver also has become involved in the health care debate. Culver has scheduled town hall meetings Tuesday in Coralville and Cedar Rapids to hear from some of the people affected by Branstad’s shift to private management of the Medicaid health insurance program, which helps about 560,000 low-income and disabled Iowans. (Petroski, 2/8)

Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune: State Launches Job Training For Medicaid Recipients
The launching of a key workforce training component to Montana’s 2015 Medicaid expansion program was announced in Great Falls on Monday. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, Republican state Sen. Ed Buttrey and state Labor and Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy said the HELP-Link program will use the state’s 24 Job Service centers to help 70,000 moderate income Montanans qualifying for expanded Medicaid health insurance to assess their job skills, get workforce training and obtain better jobs in their communities. (Johnson, 2/8)

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