KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Expansion Of Medicaid Is Key Issue As Governors Meet In Va.

NPR: Eyes On Election, Governors Hedge On Health Care
As governors from around the country meet this weekend in Williamsburg, Va., health care is near the top of their agenda. Specifically, what to do about the federal health law, now that the Supreme Court has given states new options. Republican governors in particular said they were genuinely surprised by the Supreme Court ruling. The justices declared the health law in general constitutional, but gave states the option of whether or not to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs (Rovner, 7/15).

Los Angeles Times: Governors Divided Over Medicaid Expansion
But a greater number of governors on both sides approached the unexpected ruling with caution, largely out of concern for the long-term effect on state budgets that had been stretched to the brink by the economic downturn. ... The ruling also opened the door for states inclined to participate to seek further concessions from the federal government in how an expansion might be structured. Ultimately, said Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican and the association's outgoing chairman, "there are going to be 50 different state solutions" (Memoli, 7/14).

The Washington Post: Why Republican State Leaders Are Resisting Medicaid Expansion
The expansion of Medicaid called for in President Obama’s health-care law would seem an irresistible deal for states: Starting in 2014, in exchange for spending a percent or two more of their own funds, states will get nearly a trillion additional federal dollars during the next 10 years to extend health insurance to 17 million of their neediest residents. So why are so many Republican state leaders balking? Increasingly they speak of two experiences that, they charge, raise questions about whether the federal government can be counted on to hold up its end of the bargain: Congress’s decision not to fund a mandated increase in Medicaid pay rates for doctors beyond two years and Obama’s recent willingness to consider cutting the federal contribution to Medicaid (Aizenman, 7/13).

The New York Times: Many Governors Are Still Unsure About Medicaid Expansion
How well the new health care law succeeds in covering millions of the poorest Americans will depend largely on undecided governors of both parties, who gathered here this weekend and spoke of the challenges of weighing the law’s costs and benefits in a highly charged political atmosphere and a time of fiscal uncertainty. ... But as they gathered here this weekend at a meeting of the National Governors Association, most governors in both parties said that faced with a choice they did not expect to have, they needed to study how to proceed with this significant change in federal-state relations. Not all Democrats were leaping at the chance to expand their programs, and not all Republicans were ruling it out (Cooper, 7/14).

Politico: GOP Governors Name Their Price On Health Care Law Expansion
Two dozen Republican governors fought all the way to the Supreme Court to win the right to reject President Barack Obama’s expansion of Medicaid under the health care law. However, just a few weeks after the Supreme Court sided with them, some of these governors are leaving themselves an opening to expand Medicaid anyway — but on their own terms. Five Republican governors said Friday they would consider expanding the program if the feds gave them Medicaid dollars in block grants, which has been a goal of Republicans since the 1990s (Cheney, 7/14).

The Washington Post: DGA Chairman O’Malley On Medicaid Expansion: ‘Each Governor Has A Unique Set Of Challenges'
So what does the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association make of the fact that in more than half a dozen states, Democratic governors are waiting to make a decision on whether they’ll implement a key aspect of President Obama’s signature health-care law? "Every governor has a unique set of challenges; some have greater political challenges to overcome than others," DGA chairman and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told reporters Saturday at the National Governors Association annual meeting. While seven Democratic governors have yet to make up their minds on the Medicaid expansion, 22 Republican governors are undecided, as well (Sonmez, 7/14).

Politico: McDonnell Hammers Medicaid Expansion
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell denied on Sunday that his Republican peers were "playing politics" by rejecting the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, arguing the expansion was fiscally irresponsible. "Expanding Medicaid without fixing Medicaid is a terrible idea," McDonnell, a Republican, said on CNN's "State of the Union" (Reis, 7/15).

Politico: GOP Governors Say 'No' To Medicaid
Two Republican governors appear ready to turn down the Medicaid expansion now that the Supreme Court has given them a way out. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad both attacked the Obama Medicaid requirements to cover millions of lower-income families, saying their states couldn't afford it. "I don't want to embark on something that is unaffordable," Branstad said on "Fox News Sunday" (Raju, 7/15).

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