KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fifth GOP Governor Backs Medicaid Expansion

Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he will push to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income Ohioans, as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pledged to fund such expansions longterm. Meanwhile, lawmakers and health providers in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, California, Texas and Wisconsin continue to debate the expansion, which was made optional by the Supreme Court.

Politico: Kathleen Sebelius: Medicaid Expansion's Not 'Bait And Switch'
In a message targeted at states undecided about expanding Medicaid under the health care law, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed Monday that the White House won't back away from its promise to fund the expansions, even amid mounting battles over the federal budget. Sebelius said states hesitant to sign up for the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act shouldn't fear that the federal funding commitment will disappear when states boost their Medicaid rolls (Millman, 2/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ohio's Republican Governor Backs Medicaid Expansion Under Federal Law To Cover More Poor
Ohio's Republican governor announced Monday he will push for expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law, a move that would give many more poor people access to government care. It also sets up a potential fight among the governor and Republicans who control the state Legislature and are strongly against President Barack Obama's health care law (2/4).

Politico: Kasich's Obamacare Flip Burns Conservatives
Conservative groups wanted to stop the march of Obamacare expansion at ground zero: the states. But one of their best hopes just caved (Nather, 2/4).

The New York Times: Ohio: Governor Will Seek To Cover More Under Medicaid
Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, said he would seek to expand the Medicaid program in Ohio to cover several hundred thousand more adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. Expanding the program is a central goal of President Obama's health care law, but the Supreme Court ruled last year that it was an option for states, not a requirement (Goodnough, 2/4).

Reuters: Ohio Governor Kasich Backs Medicaid Expansion In Proposed Budget
Ohio's Republican governor on Monday endorsed the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, raising expectations that political opposition to the plan may be starting to thaw among GOP leaders in so-called Red states. Gov. John Kasich, the fifth Republican state governor to support the Medicaid expansion, made his announcement as part of a press briefing on his $63.3 billion 2014-15 budget proposal (Palmer, 2/4).

CQ Healthbeat: Sebelius Praises Kasich Backing Of Medicaid Expansion
Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich on Monday became the fifth Republican governor to announce support for expanding Medicaid, a decision that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called “a great step forward.” Kasich’s decision, which was announced in conjunction with the release of his two-year budget proposal, was widely anticipated (Adams and Reichard, 2/4).

The Associated Press: Corbett May Wait On Decision On Medicaid Expansion
[Pennsylvania] Gov. Tom Corbett may not announce whether he will support the expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law when he delivers his budget address to the Legislature on Tuesday. What to do about Medicaid is a major dilemma for the Republican governor, who as attorney general earlier joined an ultimately unsuccessful multi-state lawsuit to try to throw out President Barack Obama's sweeping 2010 health care law (Levy, 2/4).

The Associated Press: Dems Say Politics Must Be Removed From Medicaid Plan
Democratic leaders in the Oklahoma Legislature said Monday that Gov. Mary Fallin's decision not to expand the state's Medicaid program was politically motivated and that more public awareness is needed among the roughly 200,000 low-income Oklahomans who would benefit from the expansion. Fallin announced in November that Oklahoma would reject the Medicaid expansion allowed under the health care overhaul law, citing the cost to both the state and federal governments (2/5).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Hospital Association Endorses Medicaid Expansion
The Wisconsin Hospital Association has come out in favor of expanding the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act to include adults now not eligible for coverage. The hospital association said its board of directors last week unanimously supported expanding the program. "There will be much debate on this issue with valid opinions on both sides," Steve Brenton, president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, said in a statement. "But at the end of the day, in this time of uncertainty, we cannot have fewer people with coverage and more uncompensated care." The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the law last summer gave states the option of not expanding their Medicaid programs. Gov. Scott Walker, who has not indicated what he may do, is expected to announce his decision this month (Boulton, 2/4).

The Texas Tribune: Trade Associations Lend Support For Medicaid Expansion
Despite the resistance of Gov. Rick Perry and many other Republicans to expanding Medicaid in Texas under the Affordable Care Act, some momentum seems to be building from outside of the Capitol in support of the expansion. Texas’ two largest health care trade associations, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, have announced support for extending Medicaid coverage to low-income adults (Aaronson, 2/5).

California Healthline: Finance, Health Care Linked In Expansion Effort
State health care and finance officials met for the first time with stakeholders Friday to outline some of the differences between two possible approaches -- state-based or county-based -- to implementing the state's optional Medi-Cal expansion. Many details of the proposed expansion of Medi-Cal are unknown, state officials said Friday because they're waiting for more federal guidance in many areas. One important detail is known: the federal government will fully pay for the expansion benefits for new enrollees for the first three years. Diana Dooley, the state's Secretary of Health and Human Services, said implementing the expansion will be influenced in equal parts by financial and health care considerations (Gorn, 2/4).

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