KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid Cost Estimates Trigger Florida Flap

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's concerns about the health law's Medicaid expansion during a meeting Monday with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is continuing to draw criticism that he is exaggerating the potential cost.  

The Associated Press: Fla. Gov. Under Fire For Health Care Cost Estimate
Gov. Rick Scott is again facing criticism that he is overstating the potential cost to Florida taxpayers of the federal health care overhaul. ... The Republican governor told Sebelius that state taxpayers will have to pay near $26 billion over the next 10 years to implement the overhaul. That figure - drawn up last month by the state's main health care agency - is three times higher than one drawn up by state economists back in August (Fineout, 1/8).

Health News Florida: Scott To Look At Other Medicaid Cost Estimates
Gov. Rick Scott is willing to look at estimates on the cost of Medicaid expansion other than the ones he has been using, according to a release Tuesday evening. The statement from Scott's Communications Director Melissa Sellers came in apparent reaction to Health News Florida's report early Tuesday headlined "Legislative Analysts told Scott His Medicaid Estimates Are Wrong (But He's Using Them Anyway)" (Gentry, 1/9).

In other health law news --

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Real Cost Of Medicaid Expansion Scrutinized
When Gov. John Hickenlooper announced his endorsement of a plan to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act last week, he outlined a proposal that would cost Colorado an estimated $128 million over the next decade. But cost containment strategies would save $280 million in state and federal funds, he said, making the expansion a bargain. On Monday, it fell to the staff of the state Department of Health Care Policy and Finance to persuade skeptical legislators on the Joint Budget Committee that the plan really will work (Carman, 1/8).

The Oregonian: Governor, Federal Officials To Speak At Oregon's Health Insurance Exchange
Federal officials and Gov. John Kitzhaber will speak Thursday at a meeting of Oregon's new health insurance exchange. The exchange, known as Cover Oregon, will operate an online website that serves as marketplace for individuals and small businesses. Starting in October, they'll be able to purchase health insurance, as well as obtain tax credits if they qualify (Budnick, 1/8).

Politico Pro: Many States Let HHS Pick Their EHB Plans
About half the states let HHS set their mandated health benefits after a late-December deadline for states to pick their own quietly passed. States faced a Dec. 26 deadline to set the benchmark for required benefits in their small-group and individual markets in 2014. If they didn't pick one, they automatically wound up with their largest small-group plan as the benchmark for essential health benefits required under the Affordable Care Act. It's not the first deadline states faced to choose a benefits benchmark — but this one passed with much less controversy than the first (Millman, 1/8).

CQ HealthBeat: Actuarial Industry Study Questions Health Law's Age Bands
Insurance industry officials are continuing to push back on the new age rating requirement under the health care law, this time with a new study from the American Academy of Actuaries that says the provision could cause premiums for young, healthy individuals to increase by more than 40 percent. The study focused on adults ages 21-29 because, the authors said, even accounting for the 2010 law's provision allowing people up to age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance, "this age group has an uninsured rate that is roughly twice the uninsured rate for the nonelderly population as a whole" (Bunis, 1/8).

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