KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Big Jump In Medicaid Signups Reported

More than 6.3 million people were found eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program since October, but it is unclear how many are newly insured since recipients must re-enroll each year. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urges mayors to push their states to expand the program. News outlets also look at developments in Virginia and Florida.

Politico: Big Jump Seen In Medicaid Signups
More than 6.3 million people have been determined eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage since the October start of open enrollment, the Obama administration announced Wednesday — but it’s still impossible to say how many are newly insured because of Obamacare. At least 2.3 million people were found eligible for Medicaid and CHIP in December alone, the same month that enrollment in private health plans also spiked sharply, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These determinations include people who renewed coverage or were previously eligible for coverage but had not enrolled (Millman, 1/22).

Reuters: 6.3 Million Eligible For Medicaid Since Obamacare Launch: U.S. Agency
More than 6.3 million Americans were deemed eligible for government healthcare plans for the poor since the October 1 launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare law through December, federal officials reported on Wednesday. The swelling rolls for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reflect both an expansion of Medicaid under Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what healthcare policy analysts call an "out-of-the-woodwork effect," in which people who heard about Obamacare sought to obtain health insurance and discovered that they had qualified for Medicaid even before the law expanded eligibility (1/22).

CQ HealthBeat: Medicaid Eligibility Determinations From State Agencies Up In December
Almost 2.3 million people were determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in December, in addition to the 1.7 million people in November. The report does not say how many of these people were eligible under Medicaid rules that go back years and how many benefit from new rules expanding eligibility under the health care law to more adults (Adams, 1/22).

The Hill: Sebelius To Mayors: Urge Your States To Accept Medicaid Expansion
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged U.S. mayors on Wednesday to push their state legislatures to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. Speaking to a room of about 25 mayors at the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Sebelius said those in attendance were “the pragmatic CEOs” that could help tip the balance in states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act by making their community's case for expanded coverage to state legislators (Easley, 1/22).

The Washington Post: Medicaid Expansion In Va. Gets A Boost
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s key priority this year, expanding Medicaid in Virginia under the Affordable Care Act, got a boost Wednesday with a new estimate showing that the program would save far more money than previously thought. The expansion, along with other savings expected under the federal health-care law, is now expected to save Virginia more than $1 billion through 2022, according to William A. Hazel Jr., Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources. Previously, the new programs were projected to cost the state $137 million over that period (Weiner, 1/22).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Revised Estimate Shows Lower Medicaid Costs
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration says the state would save money instead of spending it by implementing the new federal health care law. The administration told lawmakers Wednesday that a 2012 estimate, which predicted the cost of the implementing the new law through 2022 would be $137 million, was now incorrect (1/22).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Va. Now Projects Medicaid Savings Of $1 Billion Through 2022
Expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program to about 250,000 uninsured Virginians initially would produce savings of $1 billion through 2022, according to new estimates produced by the state Medicaid office. The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years. The new numbers were presented to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday and to key legislators, including the chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees, on Wednesday (Martz, 1/23).

The Associated Press: Decision Not To Expand Medicaid Could Cost Florida Businesses $253 Million
The decision by state lawmakers not to expand Medicaid could cost Florida businesses as much as $253 million a year in tax penalties, according to a new report released Wednesday. Companies with 50 or more employees face Internal Revenue Service penalties if workers get subsidized health insurance through the new exchange under the Affordable Care Act. But they don't face a tax penalty if workers get subsidized coverage through Medicaid (1/22).

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