KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Lawmakers’ Positions On Medicaid Expansion Key To Plans’ Future

Even after governors -- both Republican and Democrat -- express their interest in opting for the health law's Medicaid expansion, the action that follows in state legislatures is important to watch. News reports follow from states including California, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Virginia.

California Healthline: How Many States Are Really Opting Into ACA? Devil's In The Details
Same story, different week: A governor who opposed the Affordable Care Act changes course and announces plans to opt into the Medicaid expansion. Supporters of the ACA rejoice, conservatives grumble, and a new number gets tacked on the board -- 24 states opting in, at last count. Yet there's more to the story than governors' speeches. In at least eight of those states, lawmakers are warning that they may not go along with expansion plans. Those legislative logjams -- and what governors need to do to circumvent them -- vary state by state , but the fights are falling out along party lines (Diamond, 2/27).

Los Angeles Times: Key Senate Panel To Consider Medi-Cal Expansion
A key Senate panel will consider legislation Wednesday that would dramatically expand Medi-Cal, the state's public insurance program for the poor. The proposal, authored by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is part of a legislative package that aims to help California implement President Obama's healthcare overhaul (Mishak, 2/27).

California Healthline: Uncertain Assumptions In Health Care Budget Estimate, LAO Says
Two reports released yesterday by the Legislative Analyst's Office analyzing Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed health care budget for 2013-14 found a number of points of concern, according to Mark Newton, deputy legislative analyst at the LAO. … The report said the Legislature should make sure it eliminates or trims programs such as the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program for high-risk beneficiaries when the Affordable Care Act provisions and Medi-Cal expansion make those programs duplicative (Gorn, 2/28).

The Associated Press: Governor Uncorks Medicaid Expansion Plan
[Montana] Gov. Steve Bullock said Wednesday that federal money for Medicaid will create jobs in the state and help solve costs associated with uninsured patients, applying pressure to Republican legislative leaders to expand the program. Bullock unveiled his plan for Medicaid expansion Wednesday, a highly anticipated measure that aims to ensure that most of the state's residents have health insurance (Gouras, 2/27).

The Associated Press: Lawmakers Reject Medicaid Expansion
North Carolina lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday barring the state from expanding Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has indicated he'll sign the GOP-backed bill when it reaches his desk. The measure approved by the House and Senate makes clear that North Carolina doesn’t want to expand Medicaid eligibility and will leave the operation of the state’s online health insurance marketplace to the federal government (Biesecker, 2/27).

The Associated Press: Erpenbach: I've Talked With Republicans On Medicaid Deal
Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said Tuesday that he and some of his Republican colleagues have discussed temporarily accepting a federally funded expansion of Medicaid against the wishes of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Erpenbach talked about the possible deal during the Wisconsin HealthWatch conference, a meeting of policymakers, consumer advocates, and health care industry representatives. Erpenbach was on a panel of Democratic lawmakers, all of whom roundly criticized Walker’s recent moves to reject key portions of the federal health care overhaul law (Bauer, 2/27).

The Associated Press: Heineman Holds Firm In Opposition To Medicaid
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman held firm Wednesday in his opposition to a proposed Medicaid expansion, saying the state shouldn't rush into the program when the potential costs are unclear. The Republican governor said in an interview that he remains adamantly opposed to the expansion, even as a growing number of GOP governors have decided to back the proposal (Schulte, 2/27).

CQ Healthbeat: Virginia Health Secretary Says Medicaid Expansion Not A Done Deal
A Medicaid expansion in Virginia won't be a done deal until its existing program is overhauled, and there’s no timetable or deadline for a decision on expansion, the commonwealth’s secretary of health and human resources said in an interview Wednesday. The comments by William A. Hazel, appointed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, came as attention has been focused on decisions by a series of Republican governors in other states who have clearly stated their support for expanding their health programs for the poor under the overhaul law (Norman, 2/27).

The Lund Report: Officials Hope To Curtail Rise Of Insurance Costs Under ACA
Concerns have been mounting by lawmakers and public officials that once the Affordable Care Act kicks in next January, those who purchase their own health insurance will face exorbitant prices. That was the conclusion reached by an independent consultant hired by the state of Oregon last July who analyzed the potential rate changes and its effect on people who would not qualify for a tax subsidy because they earn more than 350 percent of the federal poverty level. But now there’s hope on the horizon. For the past several weeks, legislative leaders, along with state officials and representatives from the business community (among them, Associated Oregon Industries and the Oregon Business Association), have been holding closed door meetings to come up with a way of mediating those cost increases, according to several high-ranking officials who spoke to The Lund Report (Lund-Muzikant, 2/27).

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