KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Arizona Legislature Approves Medicaid Expansion

After a months-long, high-stakes political battle, Arizona lawmakers endorsed a Medicaid expansion plan backed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The Associated Press: Arizona Gov. Brewer Secures Medicaid Expansion 
Ending a six-month legislative session, Arizona lawmakers endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state's Republican leadership. The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature (Christie and Silva, 6/14).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Arizona Expands Medicaid In Win For Gov. Brewer
Ms. Brewer had held rallies across the state since January to persuade Republican legislators to go along with her decision to adopt a key part of the federal health-care law, the growth of the Medicaid health program to include millions more low-income adults, after the Supreme Court decision a year ago effectively allowed states to choose whether to participate. … Ms. Brewer faced an unusual situation because the state had already been covering most adults up to the poverty line, and accepting federal dollars for the program expansion in 2014 would have allowed it to continue to do so with more generous funding (Radnofsky, 6/13).

Huffington Post: Arizona Medicaid Expansion Advances After Jan Brewer Forces Lawmakers' Hands
Arizona is among the 29 states and the District of Columbia with chief executives who support expanding Medicaid under Obamacare to anyone who earns less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $15,282 for a single person this year. Majority-Republican legislatures in a number of states have stymied expansions endorsed by their governors, including Florida's Rick Scott (R), Ohio's John Kasich (R), Michigan's Rick Snyder (R), Missouri's Jay Nixon (D) and others (Young, 6/14).

Politico: Jan Brewer Wins Medicaid Expansion In Arizona
The vote is the end of a chapter, though not the book, on Obamacare in Republican-led Arizona, where Brewer defied — and sometimes confounded — her base. ... Brewer, whose finger-wagging moment on the tarmac with Obama almost 18 months ago for a time came to represent conservative opposition to the president, sold the expansion plan as a sensible option for conservatives in Arizona. She said it’s good for people, health care providers and the state’s bottom line because the federal government pays the whole cost the first three years, then gradually cuts back to 90 percent (Millman and Cheney, 6/13).

Reuters: Arizona Lawmakers Pass Medicaid Expansion
Brewer, a staunch conservative in this desert southwestern state, has said Arizona had no choice but to agree to provide care to 300,000 poor and disabled residents through the federal-state program. She said the decision would also protect rural and other hospitals from being jeopardized by the rising costs of paying for uninsured patients, inject $2 billion into the state's economy and create thousands of jobs. ... Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama's healthcare overhaul but allowed states to opt out of a provision expanding the Medicaid program (Schwartz, 6/13).

Arizona Republic: Divisive Arizona Legislature Ends On Congenial Note
The unwavering bipartisan bloc of votes that supported those issues during the special session also dissolved as lawmakers voted on the last slew of bills ... Medicaid amendments intended to defeat or change the legislation — all beaten back by the bipartisan coalition — included a repeal of the hospital assessment that helps fund the expansion, an anti-abortion provision, a requirement for a two-thirds majority approval and proposals that would roll back expansion if federal funding fell short of what’s promised. Conservatives, some calling themselves the “minority party” though they outnumber Democrats, complained that the process shut out the public and most members of the GOP, which hold majorities in both chambers (Rau, Reinhart, Sanchez, 6/13).

And in Mississippi and Ohio-

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: How Mississippi Could End Up Killing Medicaid
The fight over expanding Medicaid has gotten ugly, and the latest state to grab the spotlight is Mississippi, where a standoff in the legislature is pushing the state toward a cliff. Without a last-minute agreement, Medicaid may cease altogether there on July 1. Most people think it won’t come to that, but given the unpredictable nature of the fight over Obamacare, advocates and hospitals there are growing understandably concerned. Some 700,000 people are on the Medicaid rolls in Mississippi, and the program represents about 16 percent of the state’s hospital revenue (Somashekhar, 6/13).

The Associated Press: Bipartisan Bill Tackles Ohio Medicaid Program
Ohio lawmakers introduced a bipartisan proposal Thursday aimed at curbing Medicaid costs and making the health program more efficient, as they try to find common ground on the issue. Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal initially called for expanding the Medicaid program to provide health coverage to more low-income Ohioans. But GOP leaders stripped the expansion measure from the House version of the state spending plan in April, and it's since remained out of the $61.7 billion, two-year budget. (6/14).

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