KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS Approves Medicaid Expansion for Minnesota

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Feds Approve Minnesota Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to expand the state's Medicaid rolls by 95,000 people has been approved by federal authorities, his office said Thursday. The move, which begins March 1, will provide health insurance to 12,000 low-income adults who previously were uninsured, and broader coverage at lower cost to another 83,000 who received care under two state-funded programs, MinnesotaCare and General Assistance Medical Care (2/17).

The Hill: Minnesota Expands Medicaid Coverage
Minnesota received federal approval Thursday to expand its Medicaid rolls ahead of the healthcare reform law's requirement to do so in 2014. ... Medicaid has more comprehensive benefits and lower co-pays than the state programs - General Assistance Medical Care and MinnesotaCare - said Gov. Mark Dayton (D) (Pecquet, 2/17).

Health News Florida: Hot-Button Medicaid Bill
Florida would start moving to a statewide system of Medicaid managed care by the end of this year and would try to put strict limits on how much tax money goes into the program, under a wide-ranging Senate bill released this morning. The 202-page bill would carve the state into 19 regions and use HMOs and other types of managed-care plans to oversee services for the vast majority of Medicaid beneficiaries. ... Senate leaders also included a nuclear option if the federal government doesn't go along with the proposal: The bill calls for the state to begin running the program itself -- forgoing billions of dollars in federal funding -- on Dec. 31 if Washington doesn't approve (Saunders, 2/17). 

PBS Newshour: States Facing Massive Medicaid Budget Crunch
States estimate that [Medicaid] will cost them $195 billion in 2012, according to projections that they gave the federal government in November. That's up 48 percent from what they spent in 2010 budgets. The states face a double-pronged problem. Four years of recession have shrunk state budgets and added to the Medicaid rolls. More people are unemployed and lacking health insurance, and need to rely on the government's insurance program for the poor. For the past several years, though, states have had some extra help in dealing with the Medicaid influx. State and federal governments split the tab for Medicaid, and in 2009, as part of the stimulus bill, the federal government increased its share of Medicaid spending. But that federal help expires in July, and states are scrambling to make up the difference (Winerman and Dennis, 2/17).

PBS also offers a photo slide show on  individual states and Medicaid rolls.

CQ HealthBeat: Following Arizona: Medicaid Waiver Expirations Could Bring Added Coverage Losses
Analysts say a number of states might have the right to pull the plug on some Medicaid coverage to cope with budget woes, after the Department of Health and Human Services clarified this week that Arizona could drop 250,000 childless adults from its rolls. A letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured Arizona officials that they could drop those recipients without violating the "maintenance of effort" requirement in the health care overhaul. But determining how many additional people might lose coverage - and in which states - is no simple matter, analysts say. Some states that could end coverage might not be inclined to do so (Reichard, 2/17).

Kaiser Health News: Texas Presses For Money-Saving Medicaid Changes
Just a few months ago, Gov. Rick Perry led a group of Texas lawmakers who were threatening to drop out of Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor. ... Now, the debate has shifted, as Texas and other struggling states ask Washington for permission to operate the program as they see fit. Their approach - finding savings by curbing mandatory benefits or limiting eligibility among Medicaid populations - is unlikely to be approved by the Obama administration, which is intent on expanding Medicaid, not shrinking it. And while pressing for a waiver is a far cry from threatening to drop out, it may have the same result: fueling the fire behind Texas' anti-Washington, state-sovereignty rhetoric (Ramshaw and Werber Serafini, 2/18). This story also appeared in the Texas Tribune  and the New York Times.

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