KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Va. Lawmakers Back At Work, But Not Dealing With Medicaid Impasse

Republicans in the General Assembly are opposed to expanding the program for low-income residents, but that could threaten the passage of a state budget. Meanwhile, news outlets look at the issue in North Carolina, Missouri and Arizona.

The Washington Post: Va. Assembly, Reconvening Wednesday, Unlikely To Solve Medicaid, Budget Issues
Virginia legislators return to the Capitol on Wednesday intending to wrap up some unfinished business but with no plans to tackle the budget and Medicaid stalemates that could ultimately shut down the state government. The General Assembly will hold its annual "veto session" to complete work from the regular session that ended March 8. But no action is expected on the biggest issues looming over Richmond: Medicaid expansion and, because that matter was folded into the Senate's two-year, $96 billion state spending plan, the budget (Vozzella, 4/22).

The Associated Press: Burr Supports NC Decisions On Health Care Overhaul
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr says North Carolina leaders were right both to decline expanding Medicaid and creating their own online insurance web site through the federal health care overhaul. Burr made the comments Tuesday before a General Assembly committee looking at the effects of the law on insurance, business and health services. The panel met at UNC-Greensboro (4/22).

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Jesse Jackson Implores St. Louis Clergy To 'Go To Jefferson City' For Medicaid Expansion
The Rev. Jesse Jackson met with religious leaders in a St. Louis church basement Tuesday to encourage them to "go to Jefferson City" and fight for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. The Chicago-based civil rights leader and former presidential candidate encouraged a group of several dozen clergy to participate in a scheduled "pray-in" at the Missouri Capitol today. The noon event is being organized by St. Louis activists to pressure state lawmakers to expand Medicaid. Jackson isn’t expected to attend (McDermott, 4/22).

Modern Healthcare: States That Did Not Expand Medicaid May See Higher Premiums, Industry Says
Some industry experts are warning that states that chose not to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare could see higher insurance premiums next year as hospitals continue to shift the costs of uncompensated care to private insurers (Dickson, 4/22).

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Appeals Court Keeps Medicaid Challenge Alive
The fight over last year's expansion of the state Medicaid program is still alive, as the state Court of Appeals ruled this morning that lawmakers have standing to dispute the move. The court sent the legal challenge by three-dozen Republican lawmakers who opposed expanding Medicaid back to Maricopa County Superior Court to decide if the lawmakers' argument that the expansion required a two-thirds majority vote is valid. The three-judge panel determined the courts, not lawmakers, are the final arbiters of whether a policy triggers the constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority to enact any tax or fee increase (Pitzl, 4/22).

Some states that did not expand Medicaid are reporting increases in enrollment.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Medicaid Gets Affordable Care Act Bump In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Medicaid enrollment is up by more than 18,000 people since the Oct. 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act’s online health plan marketplaces. The state's enrollment bump in the program for low-income families and individuals is small, though it coincides with larger jumps being experienced in other Republican-led states. Supporters of the ACA are crediting the 2010 federal health care overhaul with encouraging more uninsured to examine their health coverage options (Toland, 4/21). 

Idaho Statesman: Idaho Medicaid Enrollment Surges
The number of people on Medicaid in Idaho rose almost 6 percent since the launch of Idaho's health-insurance exchange last fall even though Idaho is one of the states that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The increase is sharper than usual. That's partly because more people discovered they qualified for Medicaid during the process of shopping for health insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to be insured (Dutton, 4/22). 

One company that provides managed Medicaid services to states is showing increased profits.

The Wall Street Journal: Centene Profit Rises On Expanded Memberships
Centene Corp. said first-quarter profit rose 43% as the Medicaid insurer posted double-digit revenue growth and expanded membership. Shares climbed as earnings beat expectations and the company raised its per-share profit outlook for 2014 by 10 cents, to $3.60 to $3.90. Centene said the sharp 38% growth in its premium and services revenue in the latest quarter primarily was a result of expansions in Florida and Ohio, the additions of the California, New Hampshire and three Centurion contracts, as well as participation in the Health Insurance Marketplaces and acquisitions (Stynes, 4/22).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.