KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Pressures Push Governors To Consider Ways To Stretch Their Dollars

Across the U.S., governors are contemplating ways to ease the fiscal pressure Medicaid has placed on their state budgets. The approaches currently on the table include freezing the enrollment of childless adults, transforming Medicaid into a block grant program and convincing Congress to give states more flexibility to administer the program.

Kaiser Health News: Battle Over Medicaid Block Grants Could Have Far-Reaching Impact
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and other Republican governors recently demanded that Medicaid, the state-federal health program that covers 50 million poor and disabled, be transformed into block grants. "Y'all would save a lot of money if you let us run the program," Barbour told a congressional committee. Such statements are being embraced by House Republicans, who are vowing to tackle costly programs to reduce federal spending. But any effort to turn Medicaid into block grants – federal lump-sum payments to states – raises a host of questions. Democrats argue such a move could result in loss of health care coverage for millions of people who are poor, sick and old (Carey and Serafini, 3/6).

Politico: Haley Barbour's Mixed Message On Medicaid
Haley Barbour doesn't have many nice things to say about Medicaid these days. The potential 2012 president contender says he hates having to come to Washington to "kowtow and kiss the ring" whenever he wants to adjust eligibility or coverage (Kliff, 3/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Medicaid Expansion Leaves States Asking for Creative Ways to Stretch
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wants to freeze the enrollment of childless adults in Medicaid. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has dropped more than 40,000 adults from the state-federal program. The two are among Republican governors demanding Congress give them more flexibility to make changes under the health care program for the poor. Their requests gained momentum in Congress last week as Republicans promised legislation to help states ease budget crises that governors say will only be exacerbated by the health care overhaul's expansion of Medicaid. House Republicans are floating proposals to cull Medicaid's rolls by converting it into a block grant program - a priority for GOP governors - and tightening eligibility standards, known as maintenance-of-effort requirements, that were included in the health care overhaul (Norman, 3/4).

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