KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Feds Develop ‘Workarounds’ To Make Sure People Who Are Eligible Get Covered By Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid officials have developed methods to get around healthcare.gov's limitations in transmitting applications to state agencies, Modern Healthcare reports. But as election-year politics begin to heat up, some states continue to wrestle with the concept of expanding the low-income health insurance program.

Modern Healthcare: CMS Creates Workarounds To Ensure Medicaid Coverage
Faced with the reality that HealthCare.gov still has limited ability to transmit completed Medicaid applications to state agencies, the CMS has come up with two new workarounds to ensure people get covered. As many as 100,000 Americans who were told they were eligible for new Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program coverage have not been enrolled because of the technology problems, according to a report in the Washington Post attributing the figure to federal and state officials. However, states remain split on whether to use the workarounds or wait until fully automated transfers can take place (Dickson, 1/7).

Stateline: Obamacare Decisions Roil States
Election-year politics will further complicate the health care debate, as 36 governors and a majority of state lawmakers will be up for re-election in November. In debating expansion, some Republican-led states are tilting toward a so-called "private option." Instead of expanding Medicaid, they would use federal Medicaid dollars to help people purchase private insurance on the exchanges. Last year the federal government allowed Arkansas and Iowa to pursue the strategy, while warning that it would not grant permission to every state. "I'd be really surprised if we see any more straight Medicaid expansions," said Judith Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Every one of the remaining states wants to put its own stamp on it" (Vestal, 1/8).

Also in the news, the president of the Kansas Senate thinks the expansion is unlikely to win approval this year, and Oregon's Medicaid enrollment tally is beating early projections -

Kansas Health Institute: KS Senate President Says Medicaid Expansion Unlikely To Gain Approval This Session
Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said she thinks Medicaid expansion is unlikely to win approval from lawmakers this year given the shaky rollout of the Obamacare insurance marketplace (Shields, 1/7).

The Oregonian: Oregon's Medicaid Enrollment Beats Projections While Private Insurance Lags
Enrollment by Oregonians in the state's Medicaid program is beating projections while those signing up for private insurance is lagging due to difficulties with the state's health insurance exchange, new statistics show. About 150,000 people have enrolled in the low-income Oregon Health Plan, while about 20,000 enrolled in private insurance, according to numbers released Tuesday. The latter group used paper applications to substitute for the non-functional health insurance exchange website, Cover Oregon (Budnick, 1/7).

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