KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fla. Legislature Adjourns Without Medicaid Expansion Deal

Also in the news, the Arkansas model for expansion appears likely to win approval from the Obama administration.

The Washington Post: Florida Rejects Medicaid Expansion, Leaves 1 Million Uninsured
It seemed like a watershed moment for the Affordable Care Act when Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a staunch Obamacare opponent, embraced the Medicaid expansion in February. ... Scott wouldn’t be the one to "deny Floridians" a part of the health care law—but the Florida legislature had other plans. Lawmakers adjourned Friday after passing a budget that does not include funding for a Medicaid expansion. Unless the Republican-controlled legislature comes back for a special session later this year—which some Democrats are calling for—Florida will not expand Medicaid in 2014 (Kliff, 5/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Florida Legislature Adjourns Without Passing Medicaid Expansion, Leaving 1.1 Million Uninsured
Florida Democratic leaders want Republican Gov. Rick Scott to veto the state budget or call a special session after the Legislature adjourned without passing an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston said some low-income Floridians are not benefiting from the budget (5/3).

Tampa Bay Times: Legislature's Inaction On Medicaid Reform Comes At A Price
Republican lawmakers say they are champions for Florida's businesses. But their failure to expand health insurance coverage to 1 million or more Floridians will put many employers in a financial lurch. Without a deal on health care, business owners across the state face the predicament of either paying to provide health insurance for their employees or facing federal government fines. Either way, the Legislature's inaction will saddle many businesses with additional costs that could reach, in total, close to $150 million next year (Mitchell, 5/4).

Kaiser Health News: Florida Legislative Session Ends Without Deal On Medicaid Expansion
The question of whether Florida would expand its Medicaid program to cover more low-income people has been answered, and it's a 'no' — at least for now. The state Legislature closed its regular session Friday without reaching an agreement to expand access to the program under the Affordable Care Act. To be revived in the near term, Gov. Rick Scott would have to call a special session of the Legislature. There has been no indication that he is willing to do that – or that he is close to a deal with state House Republicans that would warrant such a session (Hatter, 5/3).

Stateline: Obama Administration Poised To Approve Arkansas-Style Medicaid Expansions
The Obama administration appears ready to allow Arkansas — and a handful of other states — to pursue a market-based approach to fund health care for the poor in place of conventional Medicaid expansion under the new federal health care law. An announcement from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services spells out exactly what states need to do to qualify. Called "premium assistance," the alternative plan would allow states to use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for low-income people from new state or federal health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act (Vestal, 5/6).

Meanwhile, progress reports from California, West Virginia and Minnesota -

The Associated Press: Brown, Democrats Wrangle Over Medicaid Expansion
California was an early booster of President Barack Obama's health care reform law and was the first state to authorize a health insurance exchange in 2010. It also was quick to commit to the optional Medicaid expansion that has been rejected by some Republican states. Turns out, saying yes was the easy part (5/6).

The Associated Press: Long, Vexing Process Led To WVa Medicaid Decision
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's decision to open Medicaid to more low-income West Virginians was reached neither quickly nor easily, administration officials say. The path to last week's announcement began in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care law. The ruling struck down language that threatened existing federal Medicaid funding for states that didn't expand their programs as called for by the sweeping overhaul (5/6).

MPR News: Health Care Overhaul Costs To Counties Offset By Federal Aid
Minnesota counties worried that the federal health care overhaul will bust their budgets are set to get millions of dollars in additional federal funding. The State Department of Human Services estimates the federal government will make available between $13 and $14 million a year for Minnesota counties to carry out the anticipated increase in people enrolling in Medicaid under the health care law (Stawicki, 5/5).

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