KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Neb. Lawmakers To Offer Bill To Expand Medicaid Modeled On Arkansas’ Private Option

The Nebraska legislature has refused in three previous attempts to expand Medicaid, but a new proposal would set up a plan that uses government funds to purchase private insurance for Medicaid enrollees. Also, Ohio is looking at some changes in its Medicaid expansion program.

The Associated Press: New Nebraska Medicaid Bill To Offer 'Private Option'
After three failed attempts to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law, Nebraska lawmakers will unveil a new proposal this week that would offer private coverage to thousands of low-income residents. The newest bill is modeled after the so-called private option adopted by Arkansas, which received a federal waiver to spend Medicaid dollars on private insurance. (Schulte, 1/17)

Columbus Dispatch: Should Some Ohio Medicaid Recipients Have To Pay Premiums?
Tens of thousands of low-income Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage under a state plan to charge premiums and impose penalties on those who miss the payments, advocates for the poor warn. ... State officials plan to ask federal regulators later this year to allow premiums to be charged to nondisabled, working-age adults on Medicaid who have incomes of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,200 a year. The requirement would affect more than 1 million of the 3 million Ohioans covered by the tax-funded health insurance. (Candisky, 1/18)

Meanwhile, in news about Medicaid programs in other states —

The Chicago Tribune: Medicaid Ruling Could Save Lake $1M
Legislation allowing the Lake County Jail to start applying for Medicaid benefits for qualifying inmates interred for 30 days or longer could save the county between $750,000 and $1 million a year. Sheriff John Buncich said House Bill 1269, approved last year, makes the Department of Correction an inmate's representative for applying for Medicaid benefits, something previously not allowed. (Napoleon, 1/16)

Santa Fe New Mexican: As Lawmakers Mull $69M Funding Hike For Medicaid, Program Still Lacks Key Performance Data
New Mexico lawmakers will enter the 30-day legislative session Tuesday without complete information on Medicaid — one of the largest parts of the state budget. A joint state and federal program that provides health coverage for low-income Americans, Medicaid constitutes a third of the new money state officials are requesting during this year’s session. Yet for years, lawmakers have been unable to get up-to-date information about the population served by the program, what types of health care services they receive and the effectiveness of those services. (Horwath, 1/18)

The Associated Press: New Report Examines Idaho's Medicaid Mental Health Manager
State auditors say the contractor managing mental health and substance treatment for Idaho's poor has helped reduced the use of costly Medicaid reimbursement rehabilitation services, but doing so has caused confusion and negative consequence among some providers unclear of the state's motives. Lance McCleve from Idaho's Office of Performance Evaluations told state lawmakers Monday that Medicaid spending for community-based rehabilitation, also known as psychosocial rehabilitation, ballooned from $8.3 million in 2001 to $76.1 million in 2012. (Kruesi, 1/16)

Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News: New Audit Says Idaho Saving Money With Optum
A new report on Idaho’s managed-care contract for mental health services says the state is spending less even though more people are getting services. Most of the complaints service providers have were necessary changes to the system the Department of Health and Welfare wanted to make, state auditors told the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Monday afternoon. The changes would have happened no matter which provider the state selected. (Brown, 1/19)

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