KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

At The Florida State House, Medicaid Expansion Drama Continues

News outlets also detail the latest expansion news from Oklahoma, Iowa, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine and Arizona.

Health News Florida: Medicaid Impasse Sparks Rebellion
Democrats are so angry over House Republicans' refusal to accept federal funds to expand health coverage that they deliberately caused action on the floor to grind to a halt Tuesday afternoon. Democrats are in the minority, but they had enough votes to require that every bill be read in entirety, not just summarized-- a maneuver that takes so much time it could block many bills from getting a vote if the stall continues (Gentry, 4/30).

Orlando Sentinel: House Democrats Shut Down Chamber In Medicaid Standoff
House Democrats brought the chamber to a halt Tuesday by requiring that bills be read in full, a "nuclear option" maneuver the minority-party was employing in order to try and force Republicans to take up a health-care expansion the Senate passed earlier in the day (Deslatte, 4/30).

Tampa Bay Times: Democrats Bring House To Halt Over Health Care Stalemate
Democrats invoked the rarely used rule to call attention to the House's resistance to accept any federal money for health insurance expansion and to demand that the House allow another vote on a Senate bill that uses $51 billion in federal money over 10 years to provide health care coverage to poor Floridians. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, responded by plugging in a computerized auto reader to recite the bills in full, but he would not commit to taking up the Senate plan. The House had previously rejected the Senate bill on a mostly party line vote, but Democrats believe Republicans were pressured into voting against the measure (Klas and Mitchell, 4/30).

The Associated Press: Fla. Dems Stall Session To Force Health Care Vote
The annual session of the Florida Legislature nearly came to halt on Tuesday amid acrimony and finger-pointing. Florida House Democrats kicked off the turmoil by using a procedural move to stall the pace of the session, requiring that all bills be read aloud in full (Fineout, 4/30).

The Associated Press: Health Care Coverage Option Drafted In Oklahoma
A group of Republican lawmakers has developed an alternative plan to provide health coverage to uninsured Oklahomans that would require most recipients to work and pay modest copayments, The Associated Press has learned. A draft copy of a bill obtained by the AP on Tuesday shows the Oklahoma Plan for Consumer Health Choice and Accountability would apply to Oklahoma residents who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $31,000 for a family of four (4/30).

Des Moines Register: House Approves Branstad's Health Plan; Changes Likely
Gov. Terry Branstad’s Healthy Iowa Plan won approval in the state House on Tuesday, clearing the way for negotiations on the ultimate shape and scope of state-sponsored health care for low-income Iowans. The proposal is the Republican alternative to an expansion of the existing Medicaid program envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act and favored by Democrats (Noble, 4/30).

Des Moines Register: Branstad Office: Our Health Plan Costs Poor Iowans Less Than Medicaid
Gov. Terry Branstad’s office contends in a document released Tuesday that poor Iowans could wind up paying more for health care if Medicaid is expanded than they would if the state adopts the governor’s health plan. A leading Democrat disputed the contention, which was aimed at rebutting criticism of Branstad’s proposal to charge poor Iowans a monthly premium of $2 to $10 for participating in his Healthy Iowa Plan (Leys, 4/30).

The Associated Press: Iowa House Approves Low-Income Health Plan
The Republican-majority Iowa House approved Gov. Terry Branstad's health care proposal for low-income Iowa residents Tuesday, setting up a tough negotiation with the Democratic-controlled Senate, which favors a Medicaid expansion. In a 51-49 vote split mostly along party lines, the House approved legislation for the "Healthy Iowa" plan (Lucey, 4/30).

Georgia Health News: Hospital Officials Muted On Medicaid Expansion Here
State hospital associations across the Southeast and the nation are stumping hard in favor of expanding their states’ Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The Georgia Hospital Association is an exception, however. GHA, in a recent email to Georgia Health News, says it is studying the expansion issue. “We are still in the process of collecting data on the issue,’’ said Kevin Bloye, a GHA vice president. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to offer more on this in the near future.” A state’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion would hurt a local hospital industry financially, experts say. The 2010 health reform law is expected to cost hospitals billions of dollars by reducing Medicare reimbursements and phasing out federal payments that compensate hospitals for providing free care to the indigent (Miller, 4/30).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Uninsured Georgia Veterans Could Remain Ineligible For Medicaid
Poor, uninsured military veterans and their spouses in Georgia won’t gain the same access to critical health coverage that hundreds of thousands of their peers will receive in states that plan to expand Medicaid. More than 83,000 Georgia veterans and their spouses under age 65 don’t have health insurance, the fourth-largest such population among states nationwide, a recent study examining U.S. Census Bureau data shows. Nearly 40 percent of them — people like Dale Zipperer of Griffin, a Marine from the Vietnam era whose poor health prevents him from working — have incomes low enough to qualify for coverage under a Medicaid expansion set to begin in January under the Affordable Care Act (Williams, 4/30).

New Orleans Times Picayune: Medicaid Expansion Bill Clears Louisiana Senate Health Committee
A Senate Health panel narrowly approved legislation Tuesday that would require Gov. Bobby Jindal to utilize Medicaid money on the condition the additional dollars be used to help lower-income residents buy insurance plans. Senate Bill 125 by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, was originally intended to force the governor's hand into accepting the federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. An amended version of the bill, which was passed unopposed by the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, dramatically changed the bill's language so the measure implements a similar version of the health-care overhaul wending its way through the Arkansas Legislature (Kumar, 4/30).

Bangor Daily News: Democrats, GOP In Maine Continue Fight Over Medicaid Expansion, Hospital Repayment
Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday continued to spar over linking acceptance of Medicaid expansion funds from the federal government with repayment of the state’s outstanding Medicaid debt to 39 hospitals. Although both sides say there is no disagreement about finally paying off $484 million owed to Maine hospitals, the question of whether expanding Medicaid eligibility, which Democrats support and Republicans decry, will help contain health care costs has grown into one of the most contentious this legislative session (Cousins, 4/30).

Arizona Republic: Arizona Abortion Issue Heightens Medicaid Standoff
Democrats are growing frustrated over Gov. Jan Brewer's struggle to get her Medicaid-expansion proposal into the Legislature and say efforts to appease reluctant Republican lawmakers with anti-abortion legislation threaten their support. The governor's team is working to craft abortion legislation under pressure from one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups, which holds sway over GOP votes that Brewer desperately needs (Reinhart, 4/30).

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