KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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New Study Finds Delay In Considering Medicaid Expansion Could Be Costly For Idaho

An actuarial study examines how the financial case for expanding the health law's program for low-income residents has changed as federal financial support declines slightly. Also, Medicaid expansion news from Alabama and Utah.

Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News: Idaho’s Wait Erodes Projected Savings From Expanding Medicaid
Beyond the arguments for enacting fair, compassionate public policy, the financial case for expanding Medicaid in Idaho has been lower costs. In late 2014, an actuarial firm hired by the state put the 10-year savings of expansion to state and local governments at $173.4 million. But in the firm’s latest projections, issued last month, those projected savings have evaporated, and what were savings are now costs: $186.9 million. The dramatic $360 million swing comes largely due to the state thus far forgoing expansion and missing out on the early years of the program, which promised the largest savings. (Dentzer, 2/7)

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser: Medicaid Expansion Missing From Bentley's Proposals
Gov. Robert Bentley brought many proposals to improve health care access at the State of the State Tuesday. But one program seemed conspicuous by its absence. Despite a recent recommendation from one of his task forces to put it in place, Bentley did not mention Medicaid expansion in the hourlong speech. The governor in an interview Monday appeared to rule out expansion in the short-term without shutting the door on it. Bentley said for now, he wanted to complete the implementation of Regional Care Organizations (RCOs). The RCOs aim to shift Medicaid delivery from a fee-for-service model to one that allocates money based on health care outcomes. The hope is that the move will encourage more preventive care and less hospital use, slowing the growth of costs in the program. (Lyman, 2/6)

Salt Lake Tribune: Physician-Lawmaker Introduces ‘Healthy Utah’ Style Medicaid-Expansion Bill
A doctor in the House is recommending that legislators adopt a form of Medicaid expansion that closely mirrors the "Healthy Utah" plan previously proposed by Gov. Gary Herbert and passed by the Senate — but blocked in the House. Rep. Raymond Ward, R-Bountiful, a family physician, introduced HB302 on Friday as his prescription of how to expand Medicaid. ... He said he would pay for it through "an assessment on the hospitals for $25 million, and a tax on e-cigarettes at the same rates as other cigarettes." He said that tax makes sense because "it's all nicotine, and it's all addicting." Ward said he borrows some ideas from plans that other House members pushed, but which also failed. (Davidson, 2/5)

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