KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

New Medicaid Enrollees Under Health Law More Likely To Be Younger, Healthier

States expanding Medicaid under Obamacare are likely to see more people who are healthier, thinner, white and male, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. Another Health Affairs study finds the expansion could pay for health care for the chronically homeless, thereby saving money for states and local governments.

NPR: How Expansion Will Change The Look Of Medicaid
Starting in January, it will get a lot easier for millions of people across to the country to qualify for Medicaid. Adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 in 2013) will be able to sign up for Medicaid, under an expansion paid for entirely by the federal government between 2014 and 2017 (Hensley, 9/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Law Will Shift Demographics For Medicaid, Study Finds
As part of the federal overhaul, some states have opted to expand this state-federal health insurance program for low-income people in January to include Americans who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty line (just under $16,000 for an individual in 2013). As a result, the new enrollees will include more white, male and healthy individuals than those eligible before the Affordable Care Act expansion, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine (Rao, 9/9).

Reuters: New U.S. Medicaid Enrollees Likely To Be Younger, Healthier: Studies
U.S. states that opt to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) can expect to enroll new patients who are younger, thinner, healthier, less depressed and more likely to be white than those now covered by Medicaid, U.S. researchers said on Monday. The latest findings add to a growing picture of the incoming class of Medicaid enrollees under the ACA, which gives states the option to expand their Medicaid rolls to include previously ineligible low-income adults (Steenhuysen, 9/9).

Medpage Today: Healthier People Signing Up For Medicaid
Those potentially eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion are just as healthy -- if not healthier -- than the current Medicaid population, a second study in less than 3 months found. Potential new beneficiaries report a better health status and are less obese and depressed than current enrollees, according to an analysis published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine. However, rates of diabetes and hypertension aren't significantly lower for these potentially newly eligible individuals, the analysis by Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, and Matthew Davis, MD, both of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found (Pittman, 9/9).

Politico: Medicaid Expansion Could Help Homeless, Save Money, Study Says
States expanding Medicaid under Obamacare may be able to vastly improve health care for the chronically homeless — and save themselves some money. Homeless people have very high rates of uninsurance and they tend to rely on state- or locally funded assistance for their often-formidable health care needs. But according to a new study in the September edition of Health Affairs, many would be eligible for expanded Medicaid and there would be fiscal benefits for the states. The federal government is picking up the full cost of Medicaid expansion through 2016, and will then phase back to 90 percent of the cost (Drusch, 9/9).

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tells health care experts that Medicaid growth is diverting money away from other priorities --

Charleston Post And Courier: Gov. Nikki Haley Talks Rising Health Care Costs At Medicaid Conference In North Charleston
Gov. Nikki Haley told more than 1,000 health care experts Monday in North Charleston that rising health care costs, particularly Medicaid costs, in South Carolina and across the country are diverting money away from other top priorities. “When we look at the growth of Medicaid and of health care costs in general, over the last 40 years, we’re seeing rises that we know we can’t sustain,” Haley said. “It’s crystal clear it’s unsustainable, and if we fail to fundamentally change the system, we will continue to have problems” (Sausser, 9/9).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.