KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Obamacare Disconnect: La. Residents Support Medicaid Expansion But Not The Health Law

While a majority of Louisiana residents support the expansion of the federal-state health care program for low-income people, more than half have an unfavorable opinion of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. News outlets also report on Medicaid news from North Carolina and Florida.

The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate: Poll: Louisiana Residents Largely Support Medicaid Expansion But Find 'Obamacare' Unfavorable
Nearly three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state's decision to expand Medicaid, a new poll suggests, even as President Donald Trump, who remains widely popular in the state, continues his quest to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act that made expansion possible. The 2017 Louisiana Survey's findings on health care suggest a disconnect in the relationship between Medicaid health care coverage and the ACA. While even a majority of Republicans (51 percent), and most Democrats (91 percent) and independents (73 percent) support the expansion of the health care program for the poor, which Gov. John Bel Edwards implemented last year after taking office, more than half of the state has an unfavorable opinion of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. (Crisp, 4/11)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Poll: Louisiana Residents Like Medicaid Expansion But Not Obamacare 
LSU pollsters experimented with describing the law as Obamacare when referring to Medicaid expansion and found that fewer people approved of Medicaid when it was explained that way. Even so, pollsters found that the number of people who disapprove of the Affordable Care Act is shrinking. In 2014, 58 percent of people disapproved of the law. In 2017, that number fell to 51 percent. Also, the share of people who approve of the law increased 11 points. (Litten, 2/12)

North Carolina Health News: A 'Unique' Plan For Expanding Insurance Coverage 
For four years Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly have, as a body, staunchly refused to consider Medicaid expansion. But on Tuesday morning, four House Republicans outlined a way to increase health insurance access for people who have fallen into the Medicaid “gap” – they make too much to qualify for Medicaid outright and too little to qualify for insurance subsidies offered through the Affordable Care Act. ... In broad language, House Bill 662 seeks to build on the ability to draw federal funding for expanding the Medicaid population to North Carolina. The bill’s sponsors propose using those funds to pay for more than 90 percent of the cost, the remainder would come from assessments to hospitals around the state and some amount in the form of premiums totaling 2 percent of a beneficiary’s annual income. (Hoban, 4/12)

Tampa Bay Times: Another Shot At Medicaid Expansion In Florida, But Same Result
It was already pretty clear politically that the Florida Legislature wasn't much in the mood to expand Medicaid, especially while national Republicans have been try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. For two years the Florida Senate has considered the idea, only to see the Florida House block them each year. But there were Democrats in the Florida Senate on Wednesday giving it one more effort to convince Republicans who control the Legislature to once again pass an expansion of Medicaid to cover 800,000 Floridians that currently don’t have health care coverage. ... It failed. (Wallace, 4/12)

Kaiser Health News: As Some Holdout States Revisit Medicaid Expansion, New Data Show It Pays Off
Although the GOP-controlled Congress is pledging its continued interest — despite stalls and snags — to dismantle Obamacare, some “red state” legislatures are changing course and showing a newfound interest in embracing the health law’s Medicaid expansion. And a study out Wednesday in Health Affairs adds to these discussions, percolating in places such as Kansas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Maine. Thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia already opted to pursue the expansion, which provided federal funding to broaden eligibility to include most low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for an individual). (Luthra, 4/12)

And in Medicaid news from Kansas —

Kansas City Star: UnitedHealthcare Hires New Leaders For KanCare, Private Plans
UnitedHealthcare hired new CEOs to run its KanCare plan and its private-sector employer and individual health insurance plans this month. UHC hired Kevin Sparks to lead its Community Plan of Kansas, which covers about 130,000 Kansans on Medicaid. UHC is one of three companies Kansas contracted with starting in 2012 to administer Kansas Medicaid, which was rebranded “KanCare.” (Marso, 4/12)

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