KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Embroiled In Medicaid Expansion Battles Are Running Out Of Time

Politico reports that this health law implementation issue remains an open question for about a dozen states. Some are on the brink of giving up for the first year but looking ahead to the next set of state legislature sessions. Meanwhile, news outlets report on related developments in Michigan, Texas, Ohio, California and Iowa.

Politico: Clock Ticking On Full Medicaid Expansion Funds
States still mired in the fight over the Obamacare Medicaid expansion are starting to give up on their first year of full funding — and it's unclear whether they would be able to tap into the money before 2015. Expansion remains an open question in about a dozen states after months of legislative fights. As more states continue to wrap up their budgets, some are already looking to next year's legislative sessions as their next shot at the expansion, even amid calls for state legislatures to return for special sessions (Millman, 5/23).

The Associated Press: Snyder: Mich. Could Still Get Medicaid Expansion
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday he is hopeful he can still broker an agreement with the Republican-led legislature to expand government health insurance for low-income adults, despite the state's tentative budget deal that leaves out the Medicaid expansion. Snyder told The Associated Press during an interview in Washington that while the budget deal he reached with GOP leaders in the legislature on Tuesday does not include the expansion, they could come up with a solution after the final budget is passed (Durkin, 5/22).

The Associated Press: After Steady Heckling, Perry Meets With Protesters
Hecklers demanding that Texas expand the Medicaid program under the White House-backed health care law repeatedly interrupted a speech by Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday, then descended on his office for a meeting to keep pressing their case…Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation, with about 6.2 million of its residents lacking health care coverage. Advocates say extending Medicaid as directed by federal health care reform could provide up to 1 million Texans with some coverage. But because Medicaid is a jointly funded federal-state program, Perry says embracing expansion could bankrupt Texas (Weissert, 5/22).

The Texas Tribune: Health Care Hecklers Meet With Perry
Gov. Rick Perry met with three health care activists who helped organize a protest of his speech before Austin business leaders Wednesday. Perry invited the activists to his office after a dozen or more protesters infiltrated a ballroom at the downtown Hilton Austin Hotel, where Perry was speaking before a gathering of the “2013 Global Business Summit” being put on by his office (Aaronson and Root, 5/22).

Des Moines Register: Expansion Includes State-Paid Premiums
After arguing for months over how to provide health care to poor Iowa adults, the Iowa Senate approved a compromise plan late Wednesday and sent it to the House. The proposal was expected to be considered today by the House, whose Republican leaders have endorsed it. Gov. Terry Branstad also supports it. The new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan would cover the same Iowans who would have been covered by Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But the approximately 150,000 people would have their health care covered in different ways. Poor adults making less than the federal poverty level, or about $11,500 per year for a single person, would qualify for medical benefits similar to what state employees receive. People making between that amount and about $16,000 could buy private insurance on the state’s new health insurance exchange. The government would pay premiums for at least the first year (Leys and Petroski, 5/23).

Columbus Dispatch: Bill In Ohio House Revives Medicaid Expansion
Rep. Barbara Sears, R-Sylvania, introduced legislation yesterday to provide coverage to an estimated 275,000 people with incomes under 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The cost would be paid entirely by the federal government for three years under the new health-care law. Sears said she hopes to win passage of the legislation by the end of June to give state Medicaid officials the six months they say they need to implement an expansion by Jan. 1. That’s when the federal aid becomes available, and it’s also when most Americans must have health coverage or face penalties. House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, said lawmakers will be studying the proposal over the next month, and it was “possible” it could be approved by June 30 (Candisky, 5/23).

California Healthline: How Obamacare Could Change Medi-Cal For The Better (And Worse)
As many as 1.5 million Californians are expected to gain Medi-Cal coverage over the next six years, thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. That might be the easy part. What's tricky: Making sure that the already-strapped Medicaid program -- which is facing a controversial 10 percent provider rate cut -- has enough dollars to go around. "Expansion of Medicaid in California is a step in the right direction," Paul Phinney, president of the California Medical Association, said in a statement last week (Diamond, 5/22).

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