KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius, Fla. Gov. Scott Have Health Care Chat With No Immediate Results

A meeting Monday between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the health care law didn't seem to yield any immediate results on whether the GOP governor will implement parts of the law, but his willingness to meet may signal he is willing to do just that.

Politico: Scott, Sebelius Have 'Productive' Obamacare Chat
A long-awaited sit-down Monday between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius didn't provide any answers on whether one of Obamacare's biggest critics will suddenly embrace the law. But the fact that the meeting happened at all -- and that Scott is keeping up the newly pragmatic tone he's had since the election -- raises the intriguing possibility that one of the nation's most high-profile Republican governors might actually agree to implement some of the law (Millman and Cheney, 1/7).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Florida's Scott Talks Health Overhaul With Sebelius
Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is no fan of the health overhaul law, with his state having led the Supreme Court fight against it. But on Monday, he sat down in Washington with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk about whether the Sunshine State will work with federal officials to implement it (Dooren, 1/7).

CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius And Scott Pow-Wow Produces No Immediate Results
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Washington on Monday to discuss how the health care law will be implemented in his state, but afterward there didn't appear to be any agreement forged between the two. In November, Scott, a longtime Republican opponent of the law, had requested the meeting to discuss the cost to Florida of expanding the state's Medicaid program to uninsured adults as well as the cost of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange. In a statement following the Sebelius meeting, Scott said it was a "great conversation" but repeated his concerns that he doesn't have enough information on what implementation would cost the state (Norman, 1/7).

Reuters: Florida Governor Meets Sebelius On Healthcare, Bridles At Cost
Florida Governor Rick Scott kept up his attacks on Obamacare on Monday even after meeting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, complaining that federal health care reforms could cost Florida $26 billion over the next decade. Scott, a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare, told reporters following the meeting in Washington that Medicaid program costs, which state officials say could mushroom over the next 10 years, continue to be his major concern. Scott was among a group of Republican governors who fought hard against the federal mandate and waited until the outcome of the November election before proceeding in earnest to comply with the law. "I understand the need to have a quality health care safety net for every Florida family that can't afford their own health care," Scott told reporters. "But we have to do it at a price that Floridians can afford" (Peltier, 1/7).

Health News Florida: Scott Keeps Using Wrong Medicaid Numbers, Records Show
Gov. Rick Scott says he opposes expanding Florida Medicaid because it would cost too much: $63 billion over 10 years, he says, with the state paying $26 billion of that. But those numbers are based on a flawed report, state budget analysts say. A series of e-mails obtained by Health News Florida shows the analysts warned Scott’s office the numbers were wrong weeks ago, but he is still using them. He cited them in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed on Sunday and at at a Washington press conference on Monday. The flawed report, "Estimates Related to the Affordable Care Act," was sent to members of the Legislative Budget Commission on Dec. 17. Three days later, two of the recipients pointed out the faulty assumptions and sent it back to AHCA for a do-over. They said it would violate Florida law to proceed with the estimate (Gentry, 1/8).

In other states, decisions loom on whether and how states will implement health insurance exchanges and the Medicaid expansion --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Conn., Insurance Capital, Moves Ahead With Exchange Plans
Five health plans -- including all the major insurers in the state's individual and small group markets -- have told Connecticut's health insurance exchange that they plan to offer policies in the state's new online marketplace this fall. Exchange officials said Monday that Aetna, United Healthcare, Anthem, ConnectiCare and a new nonprofit co-op owned by the Connecticut State Medical Society have filed letters of intent to sell coverage, exchange officials said Monday (Galewitz, 1/8).

MPR: Health Insurance Exchange, MinnesotaCare, Medicaid Decisions Due At Legislature
State lawmakers are under a tight deadline as they tackle a number of issues related to the federal health care overhaul, including passing legislation to set up a health insurance exchange, the fate of MinnesotaCare and an expansion of Medicaid. The exchange will serve as the online gateway for more than a million Minnesotans to comparison shop for health insurance policies and enroll in government programs such as Medicaid. Health insurance exchange legislation has faced a difficult couple of years at the state Capital, opposed by a Republican majority hostile to President Barack Obama's health care law. With Democrats now in power, such legislation should move along a smoother path (Stawicki, 1/8).

State Of Health: Analysis: Medicaid Expansion Brings 'Minimal' State Costs
A new report finds California could see a significant increase in Medi-Cal coverage at “minimal” cost to the state. Medi-Cal is the state’s version of Medicaid, health insurance largely for the poor. In the new study from researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA, analysts report that 1.4 million California adults under 65 will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal. The Affordable Care Act says the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of these new enrollees from 2014 to 2016 and no less than 90 percent of the cost after that. In addition, the implementation of the ACA is expected to bring many people already eligible for Medi-Cal into the fold. The state will pay a greater share of the costs for those people. Altogether, analysts project that from 2014 to 2016, California will incur additional annual costs between $188 million and $471 million. But at the same time, billions of dollars will flow into the state, paying the overwhelming majority of total costs for the newly enrolled and those already eligible (Aliferis, 1/7).

And Sebelius is telling states they should review insurance rate increases more carefully --

CQ HealthBeat: HHS Secretary Pushes States To Do More On Rate Review
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Monday called on states to beef up their reviews of proposed insurance rate increases. As part of a statement on national health expenditures, Sebelius said states should "continue the work to hold insurance companies accountable by reviewing and building the capacity to deny unreasonable health insurance rate increases." On Sunday, The New York Times highlighted some proposed double-digit increases in premiums for individual and small-group market customers in states such as California, Florida and Ohio (Adams, 1/7).

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