KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid Expansion Battles Resume In State Capitols

Aided in some cases by a new cast of elected officials, groups pushing for Medicaid expansion hope to reopen the debate in state legislative sessions beginning in Maine, Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas and Georgia.

The Washington Post: Maine Session Preview: Rehashing A Medicaid Fight
Maine Democrats hope to reopen a debate on expanding Medicaid in that state this legislative session, which began on Wednesday. But expect Gov. Paul LePage (R) to put up a fight. The Democrat-controlled legislature is expected to take up the expansion, under President Obama’s health-care law, despite two vetoes from LePage. And both sides return to the fight with new ammunition (Chokshi, 1/13).

The Associated Press: Va. Gov. McAuliffe Sets Priorities Before Lawmakers
Days after taking office, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia told the General Assembly on Monday evening that Medicaid eligibility should be expanded in the state. In addressing the lawmakers, McAuliffe said the state can't afford to forgo $2.1 billion a year in federal funds by not expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law to about 400,000 Virginians (Suderman, 1/13).

The Associated Press: Medicaid Expansion Debate To Resume In Louisiana
Efforts to provide government-subsidized health insurance to thousands through an expansion of Louisiana's Medicaid program will again be pushed in the upcoming legislative session. Former Health and Hospitals Secretary David Hood said Monday he'll be involved with a coalition of Medicaid expansion supporters seeking to persuade state lawmakers who rejected the idea last year (Deslatte, 1/13).

The Associated Press: Kan. Group Working On Medicaid Plan, But GOP Wary
The Kansas Hospital Association is working on an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul, but Gov. Sam Brownback and other top Republican leaders remained wary as the GOP-dominated Legislature opened its annual session Monday. Cindy Samuelson, a Kansas Hospital Association vice president, said the group is not yet sure what form the proposal will take (Hanna, 1/13).

Georgia Health News: Protestors Demand Medicaid Expansion
An estimated 200 people gathered Monday at the state Capitol in perhaps the most vocal protest yet of Gov. Nathan Deal’s rejection of Medicaid expansion in Georgia. Georgia’s Moral Monday Coalition, an offshoot of a movement started in North Carolina, landed on the steps of the Capitol on Monday afternoon when protesters braved off-and-on rain showers to urge Deal to expand Medicaid. The Moral Monday movement, a grass-roots coalition of civil rights groups, churches, labor unions and health care groups, targets public policy issues that negatively affect poor and working-class people. Though the group is known for nonviolent civil disobedience tactics in North Carolina, the Georgia protest on Monday was vocal but calm. It was the first of many planned for the 2014 General Assembly session, and the organizers said they will follow the lead of their colleagues in Raleigh if Deal and the state’s GOP leadership ignore them (Craig, 1/13).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Health Guide Calls Medicaid Application Process A 'Train Wreck'
A health coverage guide from Jefferson County testified during an exchange board meeting on Monday and said that working with Connect for Health service agents has been relatively smooth, but that Colorado's mandatory Medicaid application has been a "train wreck."… [Leslie] Wilson-Langsdon said she and her team have been reaching out to people who need health insurance at places from libraries to human services offices. She estimates that in December alone, they met with about 700 people, but fewer than 100 managed to enroll (Kerwin McCrimmon, 1/13).

Meanwhile, The Washington Post's Fact Checker assesses Sen. Mark Rubio's claim that the health law's federal funds for Medicaid expansion will not last.

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Rubio's Claim That Medicaid Funds Will 'Go Away'
Sen. Rubio made this comment while defending a proposal to "streamline most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into one single agency," which would distribute funds as a cash grant to states for their own "creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity." Rubio was asked what would happen if states simply opted out of providing programs for the poor, as nearly half the states have done with the Medicaid expansion envisioned in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Rubio countered that his plan would be funded. "It wouldn't be something where states are told you get the money for a few years then we’ll back away," he said. Is this really how the Medicaid expansion is funded? A bait and switch? ... Rubio has little basis to make such a sweeping statement (Kessler, 1/14).

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