KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Expansion: Sparring Puts Some Red States In Limbo

News outlets report that several Republican governors who came out in favor of the expansion are battling with conservative lawmakers as legislative sessions wind down.

The Washington Post: In Several States, Medicaid Expansion Remains In Limbo As Time Runs Short
In the closing days of their legislative sessions, lawmakers in more than a dozen states are struggling with whether to expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law, with many of them leaning against participating in a program that is key to President Obama’s aim of extending coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the expansion, and 14 are planning to decline. But 16 remain in limbo as lawmakers clash in the final days and weeks of the legislative calendar, when many must come to a decision in time for the provision to kick in next year (Somashekhar, 5/2).

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Clashes Stymie Medicaid Expansion
Several Republican governors who defied their conservative bases to support Medicaid expansion under the federal health-care law are running into a brick wall: their states' GOP-led legislatures. The latest clash is unfolding in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott, an ardent opponent of the 2010 health-care law, shocked many observers by announcing his support for Medicaid expansion in February (Campo-Flores, 5/2).

Politico: Medicaid Expansion Stalls In Red States
Conservative state legislators have thwarted Republican governors who broke with their base in favor of Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid. Governors such as John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Scott in Florida and Jan Brewer in Arizona spent political capital but saw their Medicaid expansion plans stall, the latest glitch in implementing the sweeping 2010 health law (Cheney and Millman, 5/2).

Miami Herald: Tick, Tock: With Deadline Looming, House Gets Moving
After spiraling into near-chaos late Wednesday, the Florida House returned to normal Thursday. ... Representatives got an unexpected visit from Gov. Rick Scott, who briefly appeared on the floor to show gratitude for the approval of a sales tax break for manufacturing equipment. Democrats, however, wanted to talk about health care. Scott agrees with Democrats on the need to expand Medicaid in Florida, including accepting $51 billion in federal money. House Democrats have been wearing lapel stickers that say "Health Care for Florida Families." ... Scott dodged questions on whether he would call lawmakers back for a special session on health care if, as expected, they fail to reach a deal this week. "As you know, there’s still time left in session ... We’ll see what happens," Scott said. "I’ve said 'yes' to making sure we take care of the uninsured and the Legislature said 'no'" (Olorunnipa and Bousquet, 5/2).

Meanwhile, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin decides to pursue the expansion -

The Associated Press/Washington Post: W. Va. Governor Decides To Expand Medicaid; Analysis Says Additional 92K Likely To Be Covered
West Virginia will expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul through a plan announced Thursday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, which would extend coverage to an estimated 91,500 uninsured low-income residents (5/2).

CQ Health Beat: West Virginia Governor Pushes for Medicaid Expansion
Tomblin made his announcement surrounded by hospital officials, including UnitedHealth System President Tom Jones and Thomas Health System CEO Steve Dexter, at St. Francis Hospital in Charleston. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was also by the governor's side. Tomblin said that "although we may not agree with every provision of the ACA," he had concluded after commissioning a study on the issue that "fully expanding Medicaid is the best choice for West Virginia" (Adams, 5/2).

Modern Healthcare: W.Va. Governor To Push Medicaid Expansion
One of the last undecided Democratic governors has opted to expand Medicaid. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced his intention to urge funding of the expansion by the Democratic-led Legislature after considering it for nearly a year. The expansion to the full limit allowed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—all residents earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level—would add 91,500 enrollees to the 350,000 now in the program, according to state estimates (Daly, 5/2).

Bloomberg: West Virginia Governor Backs Medicaid Expansion For Poor
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said for the first time that he will expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law. About 91,500 low-income residents will be added to Medicaid, the Democrat told reporters today in Charleston. The governor has the power to expand the program without approval from the legislature, Amy Goodwin, a Tomblin spokeswoman, said in an e-mail (Newkirk and Niquette, 5/2).

The Hill: West Virginia Governor Back Medicaid Expansion
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) embraced ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion on Thursday, another win for the Obama administration. Tomblin is the 26th governor to back expansion of the low-income health program, though only about 20 states have actually pushed it through their legislatures. Tomblin said the Medicaid expansion makes sense for his state — as long as the federal government lives up to its end of the bargain (Baker, 5/2).

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