KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Continue Mulling Medicaid Expansion’s Costs And Benefits

News outlets report on analyses in California, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Wyoming.

California Healthline: State Based Expansion Makes More Sense, LAO Says
After conducting a review of the two choices California officials are considering for optional Medi-Cal expansion, the state Legislative Analyst's Office yesterday strongly recommended the state-based option, rather than a county-based plan. On a busy Tuesday for health care policy in Sacramento, the Assembly Committee on Health yesterday convened the first hearing of the legislative special session on health care reform and passed the first component of it. … The proposed bill establishes the framework to expand Medi-Cal to childless adults under age 65 in California, up to 138 percent of federal poverty level. It would streamline the eligibility and enrollment process to follow the mandate of the Affordable Care Act, and offer California's version of federally-required essential health benefits (Gorn, 2/20).

The Associated Press: Analyst Says California Should Expand Medicaid
The benefits of expanding health care for California's poor under the Affordable Care Act far outweigh the costs to the state, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Legislative analyst Mac Taylor urged lawmakers to adopt an optional Medicaid expansion that features an enhanced cost match from the federal government, meaning Uncle Sam will pick up most of the tab and send billions of dollars flowing into the state (Lin, 2/19).

Georgia Health News: Medicaid Expansion Seen As A Lifeline
The economic arguments on Medicaid expansion have grabbed headlines in Georgia recently, from projections of the cost to the number of jobs created. But a news conference Tuesday by advocates for expansion took a different approach. It highlighted the human side of the decision. A number of uninsured men in their 40s are getting care in nursing homes because their hypertension went untreated and led to a stroke, said Dr. Harry Strothers of Morehouse School of Medicine, a family physician who practices in Atlanta and East Point (Miller, 2/19).

The Texas Tribune: Interactive: Economic Impact Of Medicaid Expansion By Legislative District
Expanding Medicaid to cover poor adults is incredibly unpopular among most Texas Republicans — and Gov. Rick Perry has vowed the key tenet of the federal Affordable Care Act won't be rolled out here. But proposals to do it have gained traction among some fiscal conservatives, who argue the long-term economic benefits of expanding Medicaid could outweigh the political backlash. This interactive map shows the estimated economic impact of expanding Medicaid by legislative district, according to a report by Billy Hamilton, the state’s former chief revenue estimator and a consultant commissioned by the interfaith group Texas Impact and Methodist Healthcare Ministries (Aaronson, 2/20).

Health News Florida: Medicaid Expansion Cost? Still A Guess
As legislative hearings continue on the cost vs. benefit of Medicaid expansion – a decision Florida must make in the coming session -- only a few things are clear: No one knows for sure whether the expansion to approximately 1 million uninsured Floridians whose incomes are below 138 percent of the federal poverty level will end up being a net plus to the state – since the federal government is putting up over $26 billion over 10 years – or a net minus. A study is available to fit every opinion (Gentry, 2/19).

The Associated Press: Fla. Hospitals Push For Medicaid Expansion
Florida hospital executives warned they will be hit hard if the state does not expand Medicaid coverage under the federal health overhaul because hospitals will lose federal funding they've been relying on to care for uninsured patients. Florida hospitals spent more than $2.8 billion caring for uninsured patients in 2011, hospital officials said Monday (Kennedy, 2/19).

The Associated Press: Despite Rejection, Wyo. Studies Medicaid Expansion
Despite the Wyoming Legislature's recent rejection of a plan to extend Medicaid coverage to 17,600 additional low-income adults, the state's Department of Health continues to study the possibility. Expanding Medicaid is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act, and the federal government has pledged to initially pay the total cost of the optional expansion that lawmakers rejected last month (Neary, 2/19).

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