KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Maine To Pay $1M To ‘Conservative’ Consultant To Study Medicaid Expansion

Maine's health department will pay a firm led by Gary Alexander, a controversial former welfare chief, to review the state's program and the potential costs of expanding it, according to several media reports. Meanwhile, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina continue to debate whether to opt in to the health law's broadened Medicaid eligibility.

The Associated Press: Maine Hires Group For $1M Medicaid Program Review
Maine's health department will pay nearly $1 million to an outside consultant to evaluate the state's Medicaid program and study whether it should be expanded under the federal health care overhaul, officials said Tuesday. The Department of Health and Human Services signed the contract with the Alexander Group, led by Gary Alexander, a former welfare chief in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, who has opposed an expansion of Medicaid and been criticized by Democrats and advocates for the poor and disabled for his cost-cutting efforts toward welfare (Durkin, 11/19).

Bangor Daily News: Maine Hires Conservative Firm To Study Medicaid Expansion, Bolster Welfare Efficiency
The state has contracted a conservative former welfare administrator with a history of slashing benefits to review Maine’s Medicaid system and other welfare programs. The Alexander Group, based in Rhode Island and spearheaded by former Pennsylvania and Rhode Island welfare chief Gary Alexander, will be paid nearly $1 million over eight months for its services, which will include a report on potential costs of expanding Medicaid under terms of the Affordable Care Act (Moretto, 11/19).

St. Louis Beacon: Nixon Scuttles Meeting With Legislative Leaders On Medicaid, After They Seek To Stipulate The Terms
The anticipated meeting next week between Gov. Jay Nixon and top legislative leaders, to discuss health care and Medicaid, may be on the ropes as a result of a dispute between the two camps over how and where the session would proceed. Nixon made public late Tuesday a tersely worded letter in which he took umbrage – and rejected – the terms of the meeting stipulated by the  chairmen of the House and Senate Interim Committees on Medicaid Transformation and Reform (Mannies, 11/19).

Greenville (S.C.) News: State Encouraged To Expand Medicaid
The White House and South Carolina Democrats joined forces Tuesday to encourage the state to expand its Medicaid program and provide health insurance to an additional 198,000 lower-income residents. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, in a conference call with reporters arranged by the White House, said Republicans are resisting the expansion for political reasons. “It’s simply political that they don’t want 198,000 people... to gain that coverage and be able to thank a Democratic administration,” Rutherford said (Orndorff Troyan, 11/19).

Indianapolis Star: Pence Seeks Fed Meeting On Medicaid
Gov. Mike Pence wants to meet one-on-one with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to try to reach an agreement on expanding Medicaid in Indiana. Pence said in a letter sent to Sebelius last week and released by the governor’s office today that his staff and hers have been working collaboratively on the issue. “It is in that same spirit of collaboration that I wish to discuss the future of the Healthy Indiana Plan with you directly,” Pence wrote. But there remains a potentially big sticking point with the method that Pence wants to use for expanding Medicaid. Pence wants to require recipients to contribute toward their care to make them more aware of the cost of services, while federal law prevents cost-sharing for Medicaid beneficiaries who fall below the federal poverty line (Groppe, 11/19).


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