KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Expansion Divides GOP Governors

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the latest Republican executive to reverse his opposition to the health law's Medicaid expansion. Some other fervent opponents, however -- among them, Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana -- continue to hold the line.

Politico: Governors On ACA: Ideologues Vs. Pragmatists
The next stage of Obamacare is shaping up into a fight between two camps of Republican governors sure to duke it out in the 2016 presidential primary — ideologues versus pragmatists. The ideological purists are big-name Southern governors — like Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Bob McDonnell and Rick Perry — who have all said "hell no" to major pieces of the law, even turning down free federal cash to expand Medicaid in their states (Nather and Millman, 2/21).

The New York Times: In Reversal, Florida to Take Health Law's Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida reversed himself on Wednesday and announced that he would expand his state's Medicaid program to cover the poor, becoming the latest — and, perhaps, most prominent — Republican critic of President Obama's health care law to decide to put it into effect (Alvarez, 2/20).

The Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Clears Another Hurdle Toward Implementation
President Obama's Affordable Care Act cleared another hurdle toward implementation Wednesday when one of its fiercest opponents, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, embraced a key pillar of the law by voicing support for its critical Medicaid expansion component. Scott joins six other Republican governors who have recently come to back a provision meant to extend coverage to 17 million Americans nationwide (Kliff, 2/20).

Tampa Bay Times: Gov. Rick Scott's 'New Perspective': Expand Medicaid After All
Scott's endorsement means that as many as 1 million Floridians could gain access to health care, if the Republican-controlled Legislature agrees. That is not a certainty. "Gov. Scott has made his decision and I certainly respect his thoughts," House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said. "However, the Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision. I am personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of health care in our state and ensure our long-term financial stability" (Mitchell, 2/20).

Miami Herald: Florida Gov. Rick Scott Supports Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he supports expanding Medicaid and funneling billions of federal dollars to Florida, a significant policy reversal that could bring health care coverage to 1 million additional Floridians…Scott, a former hospital executive, spoke with unusual directness about helping the "poorest and weakest" Floridians — a stunning about-face for a small-government Republican who was one of the loudest voices in an aggressive, and ultimately unsuccessful, legal strategy to kill a law he derided as "Obamacare" (2/21).

NPR: In Reversal, Florida Gov. Scott Agrees To Medicaid Expansion
But Wednesday, Scott, a Republican, pulled a complete turnabout. He said Florida would accept the federal government's offer of funding, at least for the three years it has promised to pay the entire bill (Rovner, 2/20).

Kaiser Health News: Waiver In Hand, Florida's Rick Scott Backs Medicaid Expansion
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he would back expansion of the Medicaid program under the federal health law. At a hastily-called press conference, Scott, a Republican, said he supported expanding Medicaid for three years — the amount of time the federal government picks up the whole cost (Webber, 2/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Governor Now Supports Broader Medicaid
Mr. Scott said he would support a three-year expansion "as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100% of the cost during this time." He called it a "a compassionate, common-sense step forward" (Camp-Flores, McWhirter and Martin, 2/20).

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: In Reversal, Florida To Expand Medicaid Under Healthcare Overhaul
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he intended to expand Medicaid coverage to about 900,000 more people in his state under the federal healthcare overhaul, a surprise decision from a vocal critic of President Obama's plan. Scott is the seventh Republican governor to propose expanding the taxpayer-funded health insurance program. The governor said he gained new perspective after his mother's death last year, calling his decision to support a key provision of the Affordable Care Act a "compassionate, common-sense step forward," and not a "white flag of surrender to government-run healthcare" (2/21).

Politico: Gov. Rick Scott Embraces Medicaid Expansion In Florida
Scott had campaigned against the health legislation even before he began running for office, and Florida led the 26 states that fought it in court. On Wednesday, that changed as he agreed to take the federally financed expansion that would cover more than 1 million people — at least for the first three years (Millman, 2/21).

Reuters: Florida Governor Backs Limited Medicaid Expansion
Florida Governor Rick Scott backed a limited expansion of healthcare coverage for the poor on Wednesday, joining six other Republican governors who have agreed to the measure under President Barack Obama's landmark reform law. Scott, a wealthy former healthcare executive and vocal critic of the law known as Obamacare, had balked previously at expanding Medicaid (Cotterell, 2/20).

National Journal: Rick Scott’s Medicaid Decision Is A Big Win For The White House
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to expand his state’s Medicaid program is a huge political and practical win for President Obama's White House. Scott, who rose to the governor’s mansion on an anti-Obamacare campaign, also led the legal effort to overturn the president’s health reform law last year. Without the multistate lawsuit led by Florida, expanding state Medicaid programs would never have been optional. Now, he is one of seven Republican governors who have endorsed expanding their programs (Sanger-Katz, 2/20).

News from other states on the expansion --

The Texas Tribune: Perry Stands Firm On Rejecting Medicaid Expansion
Just six months ago, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Florida Gov. Rick Scott were fishing together on Fox News, pitching then-presidential contender Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan and arguing that decisions about health care should be made by states, not the federal government. On Wednesday, Scott reversed course, joining a growing number of Republican governors who are reluctantly embracing the key tenet of President Obama’s federal health reform — a sweeping Medicaid expansion (Ramshaw, 2/20).

The Texas Tribune: Interfaith Groups Rally For Medicaid Expansion
Interfaith groups and Democratic state legislators rallied on the Capitol steps Wednesday in support of expanding Medicaid to impoverished adults, as directed by federal health reform…Gov. Rick Perry has repeatedly said Texas will not expand Medicaid when the federal mandate to purchase health insurance begins in 2014 (White, 2/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: McDonnell To Budget Panel: No Medicaid Expansion Absent Federal And State Cost Cutting Reforms
Gov. Bob McDonnell warned state legislative negotiators on Wednesday not to expand Medicaid in Virginia without major federal and state cost reductions first. McDonnell wrote to the legislature’s top budget chiefs — Senate Finance Committee chairman Walter A. Stosch and House Appropriations Committee chairman Lacey E. Putney — as they and 10 other negotiators grappled with Medicaid expansion, the largest remaining obstacle to reaching a budget compromise in time for Saturday’s final adjournment (2/20).

The Associated Press: Panel Oks Bill To Give Lawmakers Say On Medicaid
Two bills approved by a Senate panel on Wednesday would require the approval of legislators for Kentucky to expand Medicaid or proceed with the state's planned insurance marketplace under the federal health care overhaul. The bills are expected to eventually die in the mostly Democratic House (Finley, 2/20).

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