KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Utah’s Medicaid Efforts May Pave Route For Other Red States

Gov. Gary Herbert and aides have been meeting with federal officials to find a different option. Meanwhile, news outlets look at the Medicaid expansion battles in Virginia and Florida and Republican concerns in Illinois.

The Washington Post: Why Utah Is The State To Watch On Medicaid Expansion
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is looking for a way to join the Medicaid expansion, and that could have national implications. Herbert, whose aides have been meeting with federal officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since last week, told local media yesterday that he hopes to have a deal in place with the Obama administration by the summer. "There's clearly a growing understanding in the Obama administration in the need for states to have more flexibility," the Republican governor told reporters (Millman, 3/29). 

PolitiFact: McAuliffe Says Medicaid Expansion Will Save Virginia $1 Billion
Gov. Terry McAuliffe says expanding the state's Medicaid program would allow Virginia to save money by offering health coverage to 400,000 poor and disabled citizens. ... The potential savings is a key issue as the General Assembly struggles this spring to decide whether to expand Medicaid eligibility ... the analysis he cites says the state will save $420 million of that sum, regardless of whether it broadens Medicare, from other provisions in Obamacare. The research concludes that $601 million in savings over the next eight years are riding on the legislature's decision. So McAuliffe is right that there’s a lot of expansion money on the table, but he exaggerates how much. We rate his claim Half True (Madsen, 3/30).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Backlog Of Medicaid Applications Muddies Debate
A backlog of applications for Medicaid in Virginia has become fodder for political debate over the wisdom of expanding the program in some fashion under the Affordable Care Act. Virginia officials expect more than 40,000 applications to arrive from the new federal marketplace and strain local services offices that will review them for eligibility under the state’s health care program for the poor, elderly and disabled. The state already is coping with a 60 percent surge in applications through the state system since Oct. 1, when the launch of enrollment in the new marketplace prompted more people to seek eligibility for publicly subsidized health insurance (Martz, 3/30). 

The Associated Press: Medicaid Ads Target Virginia House Speaker
New ads funded by groups on both sides of the debate over expanding Medicaid appear to be narrowly aimed at one person: House Speaker William J. Howell. The focus on Howell underscores what is likely a pivotal role that he will play in deciding the outcome. The Democrat-controlled Senate and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe supporting expanding the Medicaid rolls. But the Republican Howell, and his colleagues in the GOP-controlled house, have remained resolutely opposed (3/28).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Flawed Obamacare Rollout Colors Virginia Debate
House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, drew applause and laughter during the debate over the state budget in the House of Delegates last week when he announced "the Obama administration has announced another extension to Obamacare." Jones referred to the announcement that the federal government would process people who are "still in line" to buy health insurance on the new federal marketplace after the deadline for enrollment expires tomorrow night. … What the government calls flexibility, critics call reason to doubt the federal promise under the Affordable Care Act to pay for the long-term costs of a proposed expansion of health insurance to the uninsured (Martz, 3/31).

Chicago Tribune: Kirk, Rauner Question Illinois' Medicaid Expansion
Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk on Sunday sharply criticized a feature of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, contending Illinois’ expansion of Medicaid coverage deceives people into believing they have health insurance. The state’s junior senator was joined by Republican governor nominee Bruce Rauner, who warned of the potential for a "massive" budget hole down the road due to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s Medicaid expansion. Still, Rauner stopped short of saying Illinois should roll back the expanded Medicaid program (Pearson, 3/30).

Health News Florida: Public Keeps Pushing For Expansion 
A campaign -- that some would call a doomed campaign -- to expand Medicaid for Florida's uninsured poor continued in Tallahassee on Thursday with a mass lobby conducted by doctors and nurses from Miami's Jackson Hospital. They went from office to office in the state capitol seeking legislative support …but got basically nowhere. Along with the 100 or so doctors and nurses who took the trip, were consumers such as Orlando resident Kathleen Voss Woolrich, who spent some of the time on her computer (Stone, 3/28).  

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