KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

For Governors, Medicaid Expansion Issues Create Interesting Political Dynamics

Some Republican governors are seeking political cover as they pursue a version of the expansion, while some Democratic state executives want more backup from the White House. Meanwhile, news outlets also provide updates on developments in Virginia and Arkansas. 

The Washington Post: Republicans Seek Political Cover To Accept Medicaid Expansion Money
In the bitterly partisan debate over the Affordable Care Act, few House members criticized the proposed legislation as harshly or as often as then-Rep. Mike Pence. But now, nearly four years after the measure passed on a party-line vote, Pence, now Indiana’s governor, is asking the federal government for ACA money to expand a program that provides coverage to low-income Hoosiers. But he wants to do it outside the confines of the health-care law (Wilson, 2/25).

Politico: Pro-Medicaid GOP Governors Well Placed For Reelection
Conservative activists threatened revenge for Republican governors who boosted Obamacare. Now it looks like they were mostly blowing smoke. Around the country, Republicans who defied the base and embraced Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid are better positioned for reelection than those who did not. None has garnered a serious primary challenge so far, and even Democrats have struggled to field strong contenders to take them on (Cheney and Hohmann, 2/25).

Politico: Democratic Governors: Obama Needs To Sell Obamacare
With the battle over Obamacare moving from Washington to the states and a deluge of ads battering the law on TV, Democratic governors delivered a message to President Barack Obama this week: We need help.
Four years out from passage of the Affordable Care Act, it’s state executives in Obama’s party who may be bearing the heaviest load when it comes to making the law work and selling it to voters. They’ve grappled with their own glitch-ridden enrollment sites and fought their own legislatures over Medicaid expansion (Burns, Cheney and Dovere, 2/25).

The Washington Post: In Va., Fight Over Medicaid Expansion Continues
Gov. Terry McAuliffe hit the road to sell Medicaid expansion Monday, touring a Northern Virginia hospital to make the human and business case for insuring more poor and working people — and to pressure House Republicans who have pledged to block the effort (Laris and Vozzella, 2/24).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Business Groups Clash On Va. Medicaid Expansion
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and state business leaders renewed their call Monday for Republican House lawmakers to accept billions in federal Medicaid funds, saying it would be a boost for the state’s economy (2/24). 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Va. Chamber Backs Private Health Care Option; House Leaders, NFIB Oppose Expansion
Virginia’s biggest business organization has embraced a private option plan for extending health coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians by using federal money intended for expanding the state’s Medicaid program. But opponents led by House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, answered immediately with a news conference that featured the National Federation of Independent Business, a national organization that led the legal fight against the federal health care law and has about 5,500 business members in Virginia. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce presented an 11-point proposal Monday that builds on the Marketplace Virginia plan included in the Senate budget as it hurtles on a collision course with a House of Delegates resolutely opposed to any form of Medicaid expansion (Martz, 2/24).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Arkansas Governor Again Prods Legislature to Fund Medicaid Program
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said he hoped the possibility of “severe and draconian cuts” to state services will spur state lawmakers to fund a program that buys private health insurance for residents who newly qualify for Medicaid (Corbett Dooren, 2/24). 

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Arkansas Medicaid Fight All About The Math, Governor Says
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says his strategy to win over state lawmakers skeptical about continuing the state’s Medicaid expansion is to show them the money. "It’s arithmetic, it’s not even math," Beebe said Monday at a media briefing sponsored by Kaiser Health News and Health Affairs. The Democratic governor said if the Arkansas legislature opts against going forward with the expansion, it would leave an $86 million hole in the state budget, and cost the state’s hospitals and employers tens of millions of dollars (Galewitz, 2/24).

The Fiscal Times: The Battle To Expand Medicaid In Arkansas
Last fall, Arkansas became the first state to adopt the so-called “private option”— an alternative to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion that allows low-income people to buy health insurance on the private exchange instead of going onto the federal program. Now with the midterm elections looming and pressure on the president’s health care law ramping up, the country’s first model for the private option could be in jeopardy. The program’s fate is now in the hands of the Arkansas House of Representatives, which will vote for the fifth time to approve the $915 million in federal funding needed to continue financing the alternative to Medicaid expansion (Ehley, 2/25).  

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