Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Tactical Decision To Link Medicaid Expansion To Cigarette Tax May Have Tanked Montana Ballot Initiative

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Supporters thought that strategy would boost their effort with voters, but it attracted Big Tobacco into the fight. As more people look to the success of the three states who were successful in expanding Medicaid through ballot initiatives, the strategy may offer lessons for 2020. Meanwhile, since work requirements were added to Arkansas’ Medicaid program earlier this year, more than 17,000 beneficiaries have lost coverage.

Even As More Red States Move Toward Medicaid Expansion With Caveats, Texas Hasn’t Budged

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For years, Texas Democrats have filed legislation to expand Medicaid, but those measures have gone nowhere in the Republican-dominated Legislature. State Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond) said for members of his party, Medicaid expansion is a non-starter because of the threat it could pose to their political reputation. Medicaid news comes out of Kansas, as well.

Democrats Blast ACA Ruling, Vow To Fight It ‘Tooth And Nail’

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will try to force a Senate vote to intervene in the federal case while House Democratic leaders plan to order House counsel to defend the health law as soon as they take control of the chamber next year. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama tried to calm any fears that the decision could ultimately strike down his signature domestic achievement.

With Shifting Public Attitudes About Health Law, Ruling Puts GOP In The Hot Seat: ‘Politically, I Don’t Think That It Helps Us At All’

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Republicans just spent months making campaign promises to retain popular provisions of the health law, such as protections of preexisting conditions coverage. The decision to invalidate those measures in a case pushed by Republican attorneys general ties the party, politically, to a decision undercutting those promises. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump touted the decision, calling it “a great ruling for our country.”

What’s Next?: ‘The Main Effect Right Now Is Just A Tremendous Amount Of Confusion’

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The judge’s ruling, practically speaking, won’t have an immediate impact on the way the health law operates. With enrollment closing on Saturday, the Trump administration said the court decision has “no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan.” But the case, seemingly bound for the Supreme Court, now threatens to complicate a wide array of policies and send a shock wave through a marketplace that’s been in upheaval for years.

Health Law Cannot Stand Without The Individual Mandate, Federal Judge Rules

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In a closely watched case, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which Republicans zeroed out with their tax bill, “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power.” And the rest of the law cannot be separated from that provision and is therefore invalid, he wrote.

Judge Strikes Down Federal Health Law

KHN Morning Briefing

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, ruling on a suit brought by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, says that the law was invalidated when Congress dropped the tax penalty for not having coverage. Advocates for the law say they will appeal the decision.

Hospitals, Insurers And Other Health Groups Find Common Ground Criticizing Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Policy

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Hundreds of thousands of public opinions poured in about the policy during the open comment period, which closed Monday. The “public charge” rule would allow federal immigration officials to consider legal immigrants’ use of Medicaid, nutrition, housing and other programs as a strongly negative factor in their applications for legal permanent residency. Many health groups wrote in to say the policy would take both a financial and public health toll on vulnerable populations.

Planned Parenthood’s State Medicaid Funding Protected After Supreme Court Decides Not To Hear Case

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The decision drew rebukes from the court’s more conservative judges, with Justice Clarence Thomas saying his colleagues’ refusal to hear the case over Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood was politically motivated. “What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,’” Thomas wrote.

HHS Opens Public Comments For Virginia’s Work Requirements Waiver

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Since the Trump administration has approved work requirements in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, it’s likely that Virginia’s will also get the green light. Medicaid news comes out of Ohio and Texas, as well.

Health Spending Growth Slows For Second Year In A Row

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Although the nation spent $3.5 trillion on health last year, federal economists found that the increase in health expenses did not exceed the growth in the overall economy.

Medicaid Officials Allow N.H. To Implement The Latest Work Requirement For Some Beneficiaries

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The federal waiver requires many adults who have joined Medicaid through the health law’s expansion to report at least 100 hours per month of work, job training, education or volunteer activities. The requirement in other states has been 80 hours. In Florida, some advocates are concerned about a change to the look-back period that applies to coverage for new Medicaid members.