KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Expansion Popular In Southern States, Despite Govs’ Opposition

A poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found popular support for this and other health law provisions in five southern states despite the conservative political climate. Meanwhile, expansion supporters are strategizing about their next moves in states where they have not been successful.

Stateline: Despite Governors' Opposition, Strong Southern Support For Medicaid Expansion
The Republican governors and legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina have rejected the Medicaid expansion, which would extend health care coverage to more low-income people. But a poll conducted in March and April by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that 62 percent of the people in those states support the expansion, one of the key instruments in the Obama administration’s strategy to reduce the number of uninsured Americans (Ollove, 5/21).

Kaiser Health News: Survey: Even In Southern States, Medicaid Expansion Is Popular
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have a lot in common: The summers are hot and the political climates are conservative. These are states where Mitt Romney handily beat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, so it's not surprising to learn that the president's signature health law is unpopular there. But despite the law's unpopularity, its expansion of Medicaid is supported by almost two-thirds of adults in these states, according to a survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a left-leaning think tank (Eisenhower, 5/21).

Georgia Health News: Medicaid Expansion Popular In South, Polls Shows
The political leadership in the five Deep South states is solidly against Medicaid expansion, and has been so for months. Republican governors in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, along with their GOP-controlled legislatures, have bucked proposals to open their states’ Medicaid programs to hundreds of thousands of uninsured people, as outlined under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But a newly released survey of adults in those five Southern states shows a different sentiment among the public. Across the region, 62.3 percent of respondents view Medicaid expansion favorably, including 61 percent in Georgia, according to the survey results released Tuesday (Miller, 5/21).

Modern Healthcare: Proponents Of Medicaid Expansion Weigh Next Moves
As many state legislative sessions have finished or are nearing completion, advocates of expanding Medicaid eligibility are looking at their next steps. Expansion of Medicaid eligibility as called for by the 2010 healthcare overhaul will not happen in 19 states, and seven more states are leaning against expanding, according to the latest estimates by Avalere Health. But the failure of the expansion to pass in many recently or nearly concluded state legislative sessions is unlikely to spell the end for those measures (Daly, 5/21).

News outlets also offer updates on the latest developments in Virginia, Texas, Arizona and Florida -

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Major Savings Reform Va. Demanded To Expand Medicaid Gets Approval From Federal Officials
Federal officials approved a four-year Virginia cost-saving experiment intended to simplify and consolidate health care coverage for about 78,000 Virginians who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare, a major change Gov. Bob McDonnell set as a condition for expanding Medicaid (5/21).

CQ HealthBeat: Virginia Dually Eligible Demonstration Approved By Federal Officials
Virginia on Tuesday became the sixth state approved to participate in a national three-year demonstration to better coordinate care for people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that about 78,600 Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries in five regions of Virginia will be enrolled in managed-care plans when the demonstration begins in 2014 (Adams, 5/22).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Va. OK’d For Dual Medicaid Pilot Project
Virginia has received federal permission to take the first and biggest step toward overhauling its Medicaid program, potentially setting the stage for expansion of coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians under the Affordable Care Act. More than 78,000 Virginians, including more than 24,000 in the Richmond region, will be able to use one ID card for Medicaid and Medicare services under an agreement reached between the state and federal government on Tuesday (Martz, 5/22).

The New York Times/Reuters: Texas: House Votes to Ban Medicaid Expansion
The Texas House passed a measure on Tuesday that would prevent the state from expanding its Medicaid program as outlined by President Obama's health care law (5/21).

Arizona Republic: House Turns To Medicaid Proposal
House Republicans on Tuesday began scrutinizing a Senate spending plan that includes Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal to expand Medicaid, while their leader sought to build support for his plan to send the Medicaid question to voters. House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, was still smarting over Senate President Andy Biggs’ decision last week to jump-start stalled Medicaid negotiations and push his budget through the upper chamber. Six Republicans joined Democrats to amend the package with the governor’s Medicaid-expansion plan and about $35 million in additional spending (Reinhart, 5/21).

Tampa Bay Times: Tampa Chamber: Businesses Concerned By Legislature's Inaction On Medicaid Expansion
For Tallahassee, refusing additional federal funds to expand Medicaid may turn out to have been the easy part. It will take longer, a half-dozen Hillsborough legislators acknowledged Tuesday, to come up with an alternative to provide health care coverage to an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians. ... Some Tampa businesses, (Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gregory Celestan told local legislators), are "very concerned about significant additional health insurance costs" because of the Legislature's "refusal to expand Medicaid." "We will be at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting new businesses or adding jobs," Celestan added. "How would you respond?" (Danielson, 5/21).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare Rejection Bills Fail In Louisiana House
Two completely different bills dealing with the federal health care overhaul, one using federal funding to provide insurance to the working poor and the other trying to nullify parts of the Affordable Care Act, died on the House floor Tuesday (Kumar, 5/21).

Louisville Courier Journal: Doctor Shortages May Undercut Kentucky Medicaid Expansion
Dr. Ron Waldridge II sees up to 24 patients a day at a busy family practice in Shelbyville, and says he can’t take on any new ones unless they are family members of people he already treats. So he wonders how he and other Kentucky doctors will be able to handle the tens of thousands of Kentuckians expected to get Medicaid coverage through health reform (Ungar, 5/21).

And, on the topic of health exchanges -

The Associated Press: NM Changing Its Plans For Health Exchange
New Mexico is switching gears on its plan for a health insurance exchange and initially will partner with the federal government for computer services needed for an online insurance marketplace. The state intends to have a New Mexico-run insurance exchange ready for small businesses to shop for coverage for their employees this fall and will use a federally operated exchange to offer medical insurance plans to individuals for the next year, Dr. J.R. Damron, chairman of the exchange's governing board, said Monday (Massey, 5/20).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.