KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Face Challenges With Attempts To ‘Customize’ Medicaid Expansion Plans

Stateline reports that the efforts to tailor the program take time, among other things. Meanwhile, the Washington Post examines the Obama administration claim about the number of Americans who have, for the first time, gained access to health care because of the expansion. In addition, news outlets offer updates from Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Indiana.

Stateline: Tough Road For States Seeking Customized Medicaid Expansion
Of the 25 states that already have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, all but Arkansas, Iowa and Michigan simply added newly eligible adults to their existing Medicaid programs. That was the easiest approach. In contrast, the states that haven't yet expanded Medicaid but are considering doing so want to tailor the program to fit their own priorities—and that will take time. "It's not going to happen overnight," said Matt Salo, director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (Vestal, 2/24).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Obama's Claim That 7 Million Got 'Access To Health Care For The First Time' Because Of His Medicaid Expansion
The Fact Checker has written several times about the fuzziness of the Medicaid numbers issued by the Obama administration. But it is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time we rap someone for getting it wrong, the same problem pops up someplace else (Kessler, 2/24).

The Associated Press: Governors: 'Obamacare' Here To Stay
The explosive politics of health care have divided the nation, but America’s governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, suggest that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is here to stay. While governors from Connecticut to Louisiana sparred Sunday over how best to improve the nation's economy, governors of both parties shared a far more pragmatic outlook on the controversial program known as "Obamacare" as millions of their constituents begin to be covered (Peoples and Thomas, 2/23).

The Washington Post: Virginia And Other States Wrestle With Whether To Expand Medicaid Under Affordable Care Act
It was a purely symbolic vote, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe desperately wanted it to go his way. The Democratic governor summoned at least four Republican delegates to his office one by one last week, twisting their arms to support expanding Medicaid in a floor vote the GOP was forcing just for show (Vozzella, 2/23). 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe Expands Medicaid Push
With the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate still sharply divided, the war over Medicaid expansion enters a new theater this week. Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg on Monday to discuss Medicaid expansion, signaling a shift in the ground game for his top legislative priority beyond the confines of Capitol Square. The visit coincides with a Virginia Chamber of Commerce news conference scheduled for Monday at the Capitol to release what it terms its "principles for a Medicaid private option for Virginia" (Meola and Nolan, 2/23).

(Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot: Lawmakers' Health Plans Draw Fire In Medicaid Debate
Members of Virginia's part-time legislature are locked in an intensely passionate policy battle over whether to let thousands of their constituents enroll in government-backed health insurance. About three-fourths of those same General Assembly members enjoy for themselves, and their families, taxpayer-funded state health benefits under plans that in many cases are more attractive than those in the private sector. ... That nearly 75 percent participation rate by legislators on both sides of the aisle has some asking this question: Is it fair or moral for them to accept publicly subsidized health insurance as a benefit of being a lawmaker while denying government-funded coverage to people without another option? (Jeter and Walker, 2/24).

Reuters: Arkansas Lawmakers To Vote On Funds For Alternative To Obamacare
Arkansas lawmakers will try once again to provide funding this week for the state's Private Option medical insurance plan that has drawn interest from other states' lawmakers, who see it as an alternative to Obamacare. The Arkansas Senate approved the $915 million appropriation for the Private Option plan last week, but the House narrowly rejected it in four votes (Barnes, 2/24).

The Associated Press: Poor Floridians Fall Into Medical Expansion Gap
Roughly 1 million uninsured Floridians who repeatedly heard affordable health insurance was just around the corner for them thanks to President Barack Obama's new law are finding a harsh reality — they're too poor to qualify. The Florida House voted last year not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act because of fears that it could eventually cost the state hundreds of millions annually, meaning those earning below the poverty line, $11,490 for an individual or $23,550 for a family of four, aren't eligible for tax credits through the online marketplace. Without those tax credits, most people living below the poverty line can't afford coverage (Kennedy, 2/23).

The Associated Press: Report Says Expanding Medicaid In Missouri Would Create 24,000 Jobs
Missouri would get 24,000 new jobs if the state expands eligibility for its Medicaid program, a new report says, but the analysis is unlikely to sway the Republican-led legislature. The Department of Economic Development projects the new jobs would bring in $9.9 billion in new wages and generate $402 million in state revenue over the next eight years (2/23).

Indianapolis Star: Gov. Mike Pence Seeks Path To Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Mike Pence said Saturday that he is encouraged by the one-on-one discussion he had Friday with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about using the Healthy Indiana Plan to expand Medicaid here. But Pence did not indicate how the state will win approval for the alternative approach, given that the plan ­includes a provision prohibited by the federal government — that those under the poverty line contribute to the first $1,100 of their care (Groppe, 2/23).

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