KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Jousting Over Medicaid Expansion

In Alaska, Gov. Sean Parnell said Friday his state will not expand Medicaid under the health law, while reports from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maine assess the decisions -- and, in some cases, continued lobbying -- in those states.

The Washington Post: Alaska Says No To Medicaid Expansion
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) said Friday his state will not expand Medicaid under President Obama’s signature health-care law after a report estimated it would cost the state about $200 million over seven years. “I believe a costly Medicaid expansion, especially on top of the broken Obamacare system, is a hot mess,” Parnell said at a news conference on Friday. “The bottom line is: Obamacare failed to launch, is failing to deliver on its promises, and remains in disarray. We simply cannot bail out this failed experiment by expanding Medicaid” (Wison, 11/18).

Kaiser Health News: Scott Walker's Medicaid Maneuver
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who appears to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, is getting attention for his entitlement reform. He is one of 25 Republican governors who are rejecting the health law’s expansion of Medicaid. But Wisconsin’s own Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, was more generous than many states, and now Walker wants to transfer many of those people to the insurance marketplace created by the law. It’s a plan that allows Walker to reject Obamacare, turn down federal money on the table, but still provide health coverage to many of Wisconsin’s poor and working poor residents (Toner, 11/19).

Kaiser Health News: In Pa., A Big Gap In Health Insurance Coverage
As many as 400,000 Pennsylvanians will plunge into the hole between traditional Medicaid and the new marketplace come Jan. 1, according to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. … That gap was supposed to be filled with federal money states could use to cover more people. Gov. Corbett first chose to turn down the so-called Medicaid expansion. Officials have since presented a 12-page plan called Healthy Pennsylvania to the federal government. The aim is to reform Medicaid, increase access, and stabilize financing. The feds have yet to render a decision on the plan (Calandra, 11/19).

The Associated Press: NC AG Says Refusal Of Medicaid Expansion Was Wrong
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday he can't see any reason why Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republicans leading the legislature refused to expand Medicaid coverage this year except for politics (Robertson, 11/18).

The Associated Press: Obama Official Urges Maine To Expand Medicaid
President Barack Obama's administration urged Maine officials to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal health overhaul Monday and expressed confidence that the number of residents enrolled in the new insurance marketplace will grow substantially over the next couple of months. White House spokesman Josh Earnest touted the benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage to about 70,000 Mainers, a signature aspect of Obama's health care law, and encouraged the state to put politics aside and pass such legislation, which lawmakers will consider again in January (Durkin, 11/18).

Raleigh News & Observer: Attorney General Roy Cooper Says State Should Expand Medicaid
State Attorney General Roy Cooper said the state should reconsider its decision to not expand Medicaid, saying Republicans “put politics over policy” to deny the state financial benefits and working poor people health insurance. ... Cooper, a Democrat planning a run for governor in 2016, hit many of the pro-expansion talking points: the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of expansion in the first three years, expansion would add jobs, and more people would have health insurance. After three years. federal support would drop gradually to 90 percent by 2020. The state Republican Party blasted Cooper, calling him an “Obamacare supporter” who wants to raise taxes (Bonner, 11/18).

Columbus Dispatch: Medicaid Puts Kasich On Spot Over Obamacare
But the governor’s embrace of Medicaid expansion alongside his frequent harangues of Obamacare has required Kasich to justify an aspect of a law that overall he decries as unjustifiable. Without Obamacare, Medicaid expansion is not possible. “He jams through Medicaid expansion at the same time he’s saying, ‘Join me in repealing the Affordable Care Act,’” said Tom Zawistowski, an Ohio tea party leader. “It’s schizophrenic. They’re one and the same.” The debate exposes the eccentricity of Ohio politics: Seething that Kasich bypassed a recalcitrant GOP-controlled legislature and used the State Controlling Board to get Medicaid expansion, the tea party has vowed to withhold its support from him. Democrats, who support Medicaid expansion, criticize Kasich for opposing Obamacare. Meanwhile, the Ohio Republican Party, which hates Obamacare, lauds Kasich for expanding Medicaid (Hallett, 11/19).

The Spokesman-Review: Medicaid Gets Idaho Association Of Commerce And Industry Support
Idaho’s biggest business lobby has come out in favor of expanding Medicaid for Idaho’s poor, a move expected to save state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a sign that Medicaid expansion is gaining traction despite Idaho lawmakers’ intense dislike of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Broader coverage for the poor could help Idaho more than most other states because of the way it handles catastrophic medical costs. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry is intrigued by pilot programs in other states that use the federal expansion money to buy private insurance for Medicaid patients (Russell, 11/19).

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