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Medicaid expansion is supposed to take effect July 2, but the law is on hold until oral arguments in a lawsuit can be held in later in the month. Meanwhile, the state’s legislature has approved a bill directing up to $54.5 million in surplus funds and tobacco settlement money for expansion.
As the Trump administration moves forward with its final rule allowing small businesses and self-employed workers ti get coverage through association health plans, fraud experts are concerned that the “unauthorized or bogus” plans that flooded the marketplace in the early 2000s will crop up again. Meanwhile, New York and Massachusetts will sue the federal government over the rule.
Most Republican lawmakers don’t want to touch the issue with a ten-foot pool this close to the midterm elections, but conservative groups are still pushing for a change. The proposal, which focuses on giving control to the states, was drafted by groups led by the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
The Trump administration announced the finalized rule yesterday that would give small businesses access to insurance options like those available to large companies and let them skirt some of the health law’s requirements. While President Donald Trump said the rule will save people “massive amounts of money,” Democrats and others in the health industry say the insurance plans are “junk” and they will further destabilize the marketplace.
Maine voters approved the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program last year and two courts have recently ordered the plan enacted. But Gov. Paul LePage (R) continues to say he won’t do it unless lawmakers come up with a way to cover the cost.
The plans, which let small businesses and self-employed individuals band together for more affordable coverage, won’t have to meet all the strict regulations laid out by the Affordable Care Act. The Trump administration says they will help bring down premiums, but experts warn that they’ll siphon healthy people away from the exchanges.
Even as lawmakers and government officials start to embrace Medicaid, advocates in states are building momentum with a push to get expansion on ballots. Medicaid news comes out of Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, Ohio, Massachusetts and Texas, as well.
Hospitals, doctors, medical schools, patient-advocacy groups and insurers have filed friends of the court briefs arguing that a ruling in favor of this latest challenge to the health law’s constitutionality would “have a devastating impact on doctors, patients, and the American health care system as a whole.”
As more and more states start adding work requirements to their Medicaid programs, this court will decide if they’re legal. Medicaid news comes out of Kansas and Iowa, as well.
If the pre-existing conditions provision of the health law is stripped away by an upcoming court case — which the Justice Department announced last week it will not defend — it won’t just affect people who buy their health care on the health law marketplace. Meanwhile, a group of Democratic lawmakers are demanding more information on the administration’s decision, and candidates plan on using it as a talking point in the upcoming midterms.
Democratic lawmakers questioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar about why the Trump administration backed away from defending the health law’s provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions. Azar said the decision was driven by constitutional considerations not policy ones. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says that “everybody” he knows in the Senate wants to keep pre-existing conditions protections in place.
The provision would end the state’s expansion of Medicaid if the government fails within 12 months to approve a work requirements waiver that includes a time limit on benefits. Medicaid news comes out of Iowa, Connecticut, and D.C., as well.
The Justice Department’s announcement that it won’t defend the health law provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions hands a potentially powerful political weapon to the Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. Meanwhile, media outlets take a look at how the decision will affect the marketplace, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra vows to redouble his energies defending the law.
Whether to expand the program has been a contentious question in Virginia, even holding up the budget negotiations this spring. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed the legislation Thursday, making Virginia the 33rd state to expand Medicaid.
The issue is divisive within the party and also leaves progressive Democrats open for attack from Republicans claiming the candidates are supporting socialized medicine. Democrats are trying to hone their message to signal support for more universal health care while also avoiding the contentious phrase. Meanwhile, health care is found to be top of mind for voters as the midterm elections creep closer.
The state is just the latest to move toward adding more restrictions to its program, something governors and legislatures are jumping on since CMS signaled its willingness to grant waivers. Medicaid news comes out of Virginia, Texas, Florida and Mississippi, as well.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar, while testifying to Congress Wednesday, defended the Trump administration from claims it was trying to sabotage the health law. Azar also said that President Donald Trump is taking steps to try to make coverage more affordable, such as extending short-term policies and allowing association health plans. The secretary spoke about Medicare, as well.
Gavin Newsom, the Democratic lieutenant governor and a proponent of a single-payer health care system, won a spot in the general race for governor last night. He’ll face Republican businessman John Cox in the fall.
Two Texas plaintiffs say they feel morally obligated to follow the law despite there being no financial penalty to not buying insurance next year. The men are the faces of the lawsuit that conservatives hope will finally be the one to kill the law. Meanwhile, more rate hikes have come out and they’re in the double-digits.
Maine was the first state in the nation to expand Medicaid through a public referendum, but seven months later and its still not implemented. Gov. Paul LePage (R) has said he won’t expand the program unless lawmakers come up with a way to pay for it under his conditions, but advocates point to the state’s $140 million surplus in their argument. LePage will likely ask the judge the stay the ruling during an appeals process.