KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Heated Dispute Over Efforts To Privatize Iowa Medicaid Touches Presidential Campaign

The governor's plan to turn Medicaid services over to private insurers is raising concerns in the state, and Hillary Clinton is drawn into the debate. Meanwhile, state Medicaid programs are in the news in Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Modern Healthcare: Rocky Medicaid Privatization Rollout Looms As A Political Issue In Iowa
With the Iowa presidential caucuses coming up on Feb. 1, lots of attention has focused on the argument between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over whether it's better to fix the Affordable Care Act or switch to a single-payer government program, and on the Republican candidates' repeated calls for repealing Obamacare. But in Iowa, many healthcare providers, patients, and public officials are more immediately concerned about [Gov. Terry] Branstad's Medicaid privatization effort, which he says will save money and improve care. They note that other states implemented their Medicaid managed care programs much more gradually, moving disabled people into MCOs only after the programs were well established. Now some Democrats are making it a political issue, with Hillary Clinton warning it could mean cuts in services. (Meyer, 1/26)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: KanCare Program Up For Federal Reauthorization This Fall
Kansas will bring its privatized Medicaid program before federal officials for reauthorization this year, but with new requirements to better serve rural populations, the state’s top health official said. Susan Mosier, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, spoke to the House Children and Seniors Committee on Tuesday about Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In Kansas, three private managed care organizations administer Medicaid and CHIP through a waiver program known as KanCare. (Hart, 1/26)

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Bevin Exempts Medicaid From Spending Cuts But Vows To End Kynect
Gov. Matt Bevin wants to spare the state’s Medicaid program from any immediate cuts and provide pay increases for social workers. He also plans to end within a year Kynect, the health-insurance exchange started by former Gov. Steve Beshear, and increase funding for centers that assist abused and neglected children, a project pushed by his wife, Glenna Bevin. Bevin highlighted those health issues in the $21 billion, two-year budget plan he unveiled to state lawmakers Tuesday. (Brammer, 1/26)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Bevin: Social Workers Would See Boost In Pay
Despite cuts to most areas of state government, Gov. Matt Bevin is boosting funds for three key social service programs, proposing an infusion of money for abused or neglected children and vulnerable adults. Nor would Bevin cut Medicaid, the government health plan for low-income and disabled Kentuckians even though his administration plans to eliminate kynect, Kentucky's nationally recognized health exchange created by his predecessor, Gov. Steve Beshear. "We're not touching things that touch the people of Kentucky," he said. (Yetter, 1/26)

North Carolina Health News: Public Health Directors Strategize For Uncertain Future
In the past five years, state budget dollars for public health departments have been cut, a federal fund for public health prevention has been exhausted and health departments face retroactive cuts to Medicaid reimbursements back to 2011. Now the income stream provided to health departments by Medicaid is likely to change dramatically under the state’s reform plan. (Hoban, 1/27)

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