KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Expansion Continues To Trigger State House Debate, Strong Opinions

In states such as Virginia, Maine and Utah, lawmakers hold entrenched positions about whether to pursue this provision of the health law.  

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Legislators Dig In Over Medicaid Expansion
The battle of the budget ended Wednesday as it began: locked horns over Medicaid and expansion of health insurance coverage for the poor. Conferees tasked with hammering out differences between competing budgets from the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate met Wednesday with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a champion of a health care provision that is the sharpest contrast between the two spending plans. The group met hours before each chamber formally rejected the other's budget, sending them into a conference committee. The Senate's budget includes a private option to extend insurance to about 250,000 of the state's uninsured — an alternative to straight Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law (Nolan and Meola, 2/26).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: State Chamber Touts Private Coverage Choice
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, an 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 the House of Delegates, which is resolutely opposed to any form of Medicaid expansion (Martz, 2/26).

Virginian-Pilot: Warring Words Mark Contentious Medicaid Debate
From radio airwaves to written and spoken words, tough talk on proposed Medicaid expansion was commonplace around Virginia Wednesday as legislators trudged into negotiations on contrasting visions for the two-year, $96 billion state budget. Gov. Terry McAuliffe began the day slamming what he characterized as recalcitrance by Republicans in the House of Delegates. ... Republicans had a different take away. Suffolk Del. Chris Jones, who chairs the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, said the governor told them "he is not going to be supportive of a budget" without a plan to close the coverage gap (Walker, 2/26).

The Associated Press: Maine Gov Continues Attack On Medicaid Expansion
Maine Gov. Paul LePage's administration says the growth of the state's Medicaid program is already crowding out funding in environmental departments for things like oil spill clean-up response. The Republican governor's administration held a press conference Wednesday to reiterate its opposition to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law as a legislative committee began examining a measure that would do just that, and implement other significant changes to the program, as well (2/26).

Deseret News: Senate, House May Be Squaring Off Over Medicaid Expansion
[Utah] Senate Republicans held a rare evening caucus Wednesday to continue discussing a federally-funded Medicaid expansion plan expected to be similar to what Gov. Gary Herbert will unveil later this week. The governor is already at odds with House GOP leaders, who don't want to accept any of the more than $500 million available to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Now Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, has come up with SB251, a bill using money from Washington to cover some 54,000 Utahns who fall below the federal poverty level but don't qualify for subsidies under Obamacare or Medicaid (Roche, 2/26).

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