KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals Push Hard For Medicaid Expansion

Stateline reports that with billions at stake, hospitals are lobbying to change the minds of state lawmakers opposed to this health law provision. Meanwhile, Arkansas's House narrowly approved its "private option" approach to expansion, a day after the idea had been initially rejected. News outlets also offer progress reports from New Jersey, Iowa, Florida and California.

Stateline: Hospitals Lobby Hard For Medicaid Expansion
With billions of dollars at stake, hospitals are lobbying hard for Medicaid expansion in Columbus, Tallahassee and other state capitals where state legislators oppose the extension of the program to some 17 million Americans. Hospital associations have paid for television and newspaper ads, organized rallies, and choreographed legislative testimony in support of the Medicaid expansion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. They also have united disparate groups which are used to being on opposite sides of legislative debates. In Columbus, for example, Ohio Right to Life and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio are working side-by-side to persuade state lawmakers to approve the expansion. Both groups say they want to make health insurance available to the poor (Ollove, 4/17).

Politico: Ark. House Oks Medicaid Proposal
The Arkansas House on Tuesday narrowly approved the state’s unusual approach to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, keeping alive an effort that has led several GOP-led states to consider similar ways of using health law dollars to cover low-income people with private insurance (Cheney, 4/17).

The Associated Press: Ark. House Passes 'Private Option' Medicaid Funds
Arkansas moved a step closer Tuesday to adopting an alternative to the Medicaid expansion called for under the federal health care law, as the state House approved a budget bill authorizing a program to subsidize private insurance for low-income residents. The plan — which would allow the state to use federal Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for 250,000 residents making up to $15,415 per year — is being eyed by a number of other states where Republicans have pushed for more flexibility under the federal health care law (4/16).

Philadelphia Inquirer: New Jersey Medicaid Expansion Seen As On Schedule
New Jersey is gearing up for a huge expansion of its Medicaid health-care plan for the poor and, despite uncertainty over federal eligibility requirements, new enrollees are expected to begin receiving services by the Jan. 1 deadline, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez said Tuesday. Velez, who testified before the Assembly Budget Committee on her department's proposed $15 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, said she expected about 300,000 new Medicaid enrollees to be added to the 1.3 million who receive care under the program (Mondics, 4/17).

Des Moines Register: Medicaid Expansion Takes Center Stage At Statehouse
A parade of Iowans took turns at the Statehouse on Tuesday night arguing for expanding the state’s Medicaid health insurance program for the poor or for accepting an alternative plan proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad. The issue is one of the most controversial issues remaining before the Legislature this year, and could affect whether tens of thousands of poor Iowans have insurance next year. ... Kirk Norris, president of the Iowa Hospital Association, said legislators have plenty of room to compromise on the issue. The hospital association has been one of the most prominent supporters of expanding Medicaid, but is open to any plan that provides mental health coverage, allows care at hometown hospitals and provides coverage to everyone who makes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,415 for a single person (Leys, 4/17).

Health News Florida: House Math Doesn't Add Up: Fasano
State Rep. Mike Fasano of Pasco County went through the math of the House's health plan and showed how any family poor enough to qualify for it would be unable to afford it. But then the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed it anyway, with Republicans all voting yes and Democrats no (Gentry, 4/16).

HealthyCal: Faith-Based Organizations Help Step Up ACA Enrollment Efforts
By the time national health-care reform takes effect next year, Los Angeles County health officials expect to enroll 300,000 people in an expanded Medi-Cal program. But some estimates put the number of people eligible for the low-income insurance coverage countywide at more than half a million (Richard, 4/17).

In other state-level news regarding the health law -

CQ HealthBeat: On The Ground In Louisiana: A 'Tremendous Void' Of Health Law Information
From a controversial move to divert $450 million from a prevention fund to the federal exchange to a meeting last Friday with insurance groups, there are increasing signs that the Obama administration is stepping up its game when it comes to flakking upcoming coverage options under the health law. But in states like Louisiana that have huge uninsured populations, it appears there's an enormous dearth of information getting to those who could most benefit from the overhaul (Reichard, 4/17).

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