Voters In These Red States Called For Medicaid Expansion. Now Lawmakers Race To Chip Away At The Gains.
For years, lawmakers in Utah and Idaho blocked Medicaid expansion -- until it went on the ballot last November. Initiatives were approved in both states, but now state legislators are trying to add restrictions that would limit the gains made by Medicaid advocates. Utah lawmakers, worried that a sales tax increase might not fully cover costs, are rushing through a bill that would limit the expansion to people with incomes less than or equal to the poverty level, while in Idaho the legislature is mulling work requirements for the program.
The New York Times:
In Utah And Idaho, G.O.P. Looks To Curb Medicaid Expansions That Voters Approved
The voters of Utah and Idaho, two deeply Republican states, defied the will of their political leaders in November and voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Now those leaders are striking back, moving to roll back the expansions — with encouragement, they say, from the Trump administration. Utah’s ballot measure, approved with support from 53 percent of voters, would expand Medicaid to cover people with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level — up to about $16,750 a year for an individual — and pay the state’s share with a small increase of the sales tax. Under the ballot initiative, 150,000 people are expected to gain coverage, starting April 1. (Pear, 2/4)
Utah Senate Passes Bill To Scale Back Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion
Republicans in the Utah state Senate on Monday passed a bill to roll back the Medicaid expansion that voters approved in November in a controversial move opposed by Democrats. The Senate voted 22-7, with all six Democrats and one Republican opposed, to pass a bill shrinking the Medicaid expansion to a smaller group. (Sullivan, 2/4)
Utah Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion Repeal
The rare retreat on a state's expansion of Medicaid is unusual not only because it would bypass the voters' decision but also because the legislation would require a first-of-its-kind waiver from the federal government. Another curious aspect is that critics also say that the new, narrower program actually may cost more than the broader version Utah citizens backed, but the bill's supporters contend that is not true over the long term. The unconventional waiver could mark a new era in state experimentation in the federal-state program. (Raman, 2/4)
In other news on Medicaid —
North Carolina Awards $6 Billion In Medicaid Contracts
AmeriHealth Caritas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, UnitedHealthcare and WellCare Health Plans scored statewide contracts to serve North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries under the state's new managed care program launching in November. Carolina Complete Health, a provider-led partnership between the North Carolina Medical Society and insurer Centene Corp., won a contract to serve beneficiaries in two regions. In total, the five Medicaid managed care contracts, which will last three years with the option to extend for an additional two years, are worth $6 billion per year. (Livingston, 2/4)