KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Va. GOP Pushes State House Vote On Medicaid Expansion

The recorded vote, likely to be held Thursday, is designed to demonstrate the sweeping Republican opposition to the expansion, which is one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's main legislative goals. In addition, for the second day in a row, Arkansas legislators voted down a Medicaid compromise bill. News outlets also offer related updates from Wyoming, Montana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia and Utah.  

The Washington Post: Expanded Medicaid Will Be Subject Of Forced Vote By Republicans In Va. House
House Republicans will force a vote Thursday on whether to expand Medicaid, briefly plucking the contentious issue out of a massive state budget bill in a move meant to show overwhelming GOP opposition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative goal. The House will subject the expansion plan to an up-or-down floor vote — something the measure would not ordinarily get since it is part of the two-year, $96 billion state spending plan (Vozzella and Laris, 2/19).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House Sets Up Vote On Senate Medicaid Plan
House Republicans have filed a budget amendment mirroring the Senate’s approach to extending health care coverage, setting the stage for a robust debate and recorded vote on the proposal. Today the House of Delegates and the state Senate will vote on their versions of the state’s two-year spending plan. “We have stated all along that our caucus is opposed to Medicaid expansion. We want reforms first,” Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters Wednesday. “This will certainly demonstrate as to where the House is vis a vis Medicaid expansion” (Meola and Schmidt, 2/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House To Vote On Senate Medicaid Plan
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates are set to vote against a proposal to accept federal Medicaid funding. A largely symbolic full floor vote is scheduled for Thursday. Republican leaders said they wanted to show they are united in opposition to a proposal by the Democratically controlled Senate to expand publicly funded health insurance coverage for low-income Virginians (2/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ark. Legislators Vote Down Medicaid Bill Again
Arkansas legislators have defeated for a second day in a row a compromise plan to expand Medicaid by purchasing private insurance, leaving the state’s health program for poor residents in jeopardy. The House voted 68-27 Wednesday to reauthorize funding for the “private option,” falling seven votes shy of the 75 needed to continue the program (2/19).

The Associated Press: Senate Committee Won’t Vote Wednesday On Medicaid
A legislative committee that heard public testimony Wednesday in favor of a bill that would expand Medicaid in Wyoming didn't vote on the matter and the committee chairman said it likely wouldn't vote Thursday, either. Sen. Charles Scott, a Casper Republican, said he wouldn't call the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee back into session Wednesday because the full Senate was working into the evening (Neary, 2/19).

Helena Independent Record: Medicaid Expansion Initiative Passes Legal Review
A proposed voter-initiative to expand Medicaid for at least 70,000 low-income Montanans has passed its legal review by state officials, allowing supporters to start working to qualify it for the November ballot. Attorney General Tim Fox’s office on Tuesday found the initiative to be “legally sufficient,” one month after he identified problems with an earlier version of the initiative proposal (Dennison, 2/20).

The Associated Press: Pa. Governor Seeks US Approval Of Medicaid Plan
Gov. Tom Corbett began seeking federal approval Wednesday for his plan to bring billions of federal Medicaid expansion dollars to Pennsylvania to cover a half-million working poor residents through private health plans, although advocates for the poor and uninsured called it bureaucratic and punitive. The Corbett administration submitted the plan to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has given at least partial approval to proposals by other states, including Arkansas and Iowa, that sought similar modifications to the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the 2010 federal health care law (Levy, 2/19).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania Pushing Medicaid Plan To D.C.
Months after outlining a controversial proposal to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, officials from Gov. Tom Corbett's administration said Wednesday they are submitting their plan to the federal government -- though it has been somewhat modified after seven public hearings around the state. However, the "Healthy PA" plan still retains some of what critics say could be hurdles to federal approval: work search requirements for applicants and premiums for some low-income Medicaid enrollees. To make those changes, the state needs a waiver from the federal government, and that's why the state is submitting a waiver application (Giammarise, 2/19).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Corbett's Final Health Plan: Gentler, But Still An Outlier
The Corbett administration on Wednesday submitted a softer version of its Medicaid proposal that restores some benefits, but is still viewed by analysts as the most extreme state plan to expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The state seeks to use federal Medicaid dollars to subsidize commercial insurance for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians. Just two other states have won approval for the type of alternative coverage plans Gov. Corbett wants to pursue (Worden and Sapatkin, 2/19).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Medicaid Expansion Bill Filed By Republican Legislator Who Chaired Hearings
A Republican House member has filed a bill to expand Missouri's Medicaid program, but the bill has a new twist. To be eligible, working-age Medicaid recipients would have to have jobs, said the sponsor, Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence. Some participants also would have to pay monthly premiums (Young, 2/18).

Georgia Health News: A Clash Of Views – And Numbers – On Expansion
The issue of Medicaid expansion drew its first full-scale 2014 General Assembly hearing Wednesday. As expected, the arguments reflected the passions surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. A House Judiciary subcommittee voted to pass HB 990, which would require the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid here, rather than leaving the decision up to the governor alone. At least for the foreseeable future, this would appear to put another obstacle in the path of expansion in Georgia (Miller, 2/19).

The Salt Lake Tribune: Herbert Calls House Medicaid Plan ‘Illogical’
Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday a health-insurance proposal unveiled by House Republican leaders was "illogical," adding that the state should take federal dollars to provide Medicaid coverage for 54,000 Utahns living below the poverty line. "The Utah taxpayers should not have to pay more and help fewer people, and that’s the proposal I see from the House that causes me concern," Herbert said during his monthly KUED news conference. "That seems to be illogical to me" (Gerhke, 2/19).

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