KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Idaho Governor Announces State-Funded Alternative To Federal Medicaid Expansion

Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter is proposing to fund the $30 million program by redirecting cigarette and tobacco taxes. Meanwhile, media outlets cover Medicaid expansion news in South Dakota, Arkansas, Wyoming and Arizona.

The Associated Press: Idaho Governor Unveils New Plan To Address Coverage Gap
Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter announced a new $30 million program on Thursday that would provide coverage for basic medical care to nearly 78,000 Idahoans caught in a gap where they neither qualify for health insurance subsidies or Medicaid. Otter told reporters at Associated Press Legislative Preview that he will ask Idaho lawmakers to approve the new plan during this year's legislative session, which begins Monday. The plan is a state-funded alternative rather than choosing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — an option the Republican-dominated Idaho Statehouse has rejected repeatedly. However, lawmakers have acknowledged for years that the state's current system of caring for the indigent is broken. (Kruesi, 1/7)

Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News: Otter Unveils Coverage Gap Plan
Gov. Otter announced his support Thursday for a plan to extend primary care coverage to the uninsured and emphasized that taxes will not be raised to pay for it. Flanked by Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong and Health and Welfare committee chairmen Republican Sen. Lee Heider, of Twin Falls, and Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood, C.L. “Butch” Otter told the crowd of reporters, lobbyists and other Capitol regulars at the Associated Press’s session preview that the proposed Primary Care Access Program would help the uninsured without making Idaho dependent on the federal dollars that would have come with Medicaid expansion. (Brown, 1/8)

The Associated Press: Medicaid Expansion Group Shifting Lobbying Efforts To Pierre
A coalition established by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to wade into the web of federal policy revisions necessary to satisfy his conditions for expanding Medicaid in South Dakota is turning its focus back on Pierre. The group of health representatives and state and tribal officials met Wednesday for the final time before lawmakers convene for the 2016 legislative session. Daugaard has proposed expanding eligibility for about 50,000 South Dakota residents as long as the state's share of the cost is covered by savings. (Nord, 1/6)

The Associated Press: Republican Senator Resigns From Private Option Task Force
A Republican state senator has resigned from a task force studying the future of Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion, saying he doesn't want to keep the program that provides health insurance to more than 200,000 people. Sen. Terry Rice, of Waldron, said Wednesday that he resigned from the Health Reform Task Force because he didn't like the direction the panel was headed. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson formed the group to study the program, which uses Medicaid money to pay for private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. (1/7)

Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune: Medicaid Expansion Forums Set In Casper, Cheyenne
A group that wants the Wyoming Legislature to expand Medicaid to 20,000 low-income adults will hold panel discussions on the benefits of the Obamacare program Tuesday in Casper and Cheyenne. Healthy Wyoming, a coalition of health groups such as the American Heart Association and business groups such as Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, are hosting the forums. Each hourlong event will feature a panel discussion. (Hancock, 1/7)

The Arizona Republic: Advocates Push To Restore Health Insurance For Kids In Low-Income Families
A coalition of health and advocacy groups are spearheading an effort to restore a pre-Affordable Care Act program that provided health insurance for thousands of low-income Arizona children. In 2010, Arizona froze enrollment in the KidsCare health-insurance program for low-income families amid budget cuts following the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks. In 2014, Arizona ended KidsCare with the idea that children would instead be covered under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and federal marketplace. (Alltucker, 1/7)

And a less politically charged "private option" could be building momentum in states —

Marketplace: Comparing Private Vs. Public Expansion Of Healthcare Coverage
Expanding Medicaid under the health reform law Obamacare is still very much a third rail in about 20 states — 21 if you count Kentucky where the new governor has pledged to transform their program. But in some of these states buying private insurance for people who are newly eligible – the so-called “private option” – is considered more politically viable than simply expanding traditional Medicaid. (Gorenstein, 1/7)

Meanwhile, in other Medicaid news, Congress looks at waivers involving non-emergency transportation —

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.