KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Expanded Medicaid Enrollment In Washington State Exceeds Expectations

By Jan. 30, the state had enrolled 172,700 people, already surpassing its goal for April. But in Missouri, enrollment in the government health program has actually declined with state officials blaming error-ridden data from the federal exchange. Media outlets also follow developments in Arkansas and Nevada.

Spokesman Review: Washington Medicaid Enrollments Surpassing Expectations
With two months to go, Washington residents are pouring by the thousands through the online gateway to 2014 health insurance coverage, blowing away expectations for Medicaid enrollments, the expanded government program for the working poor and their children. In Spokane County, one in four residents relies on Medicaid coverage. Nathan Johnson, director of policy planning and performance for the state Health Care Authority, said the statewide sign-ups mean “there’s a tremendous amount of demand, and maybe more than we realized, for affordable coverage from those who are at or near the poverty level” (Webster, 2/5).

Seattle Times: Medicaid Enrollment Soars Statewide
Medicaid enrollment in Washington state has grown so high so fast that the state already has met its April goal for new participants under Medicaid expansion. By Jan. 30, more than 172,700 newly-eligible adults had signed up for the free health insurance. The state was aiming for 136,000 enrollees by the start of April (Stiffler, 2/4).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Medicaid Applications From HealthCare.Gov Called Flawed; Enrollment Dips
Missouri’s Medicaid program expected to see an uptick in enrollment with the rollout of HealthCare.gov because outreach efforts would attract more people — particularly children — who were already eligible. Indeed, the federally run marketplace has turned over to the Missouri Department of Social Services more than 25,000 applications from people who seemed to meet the state’s income criteria. But the state hasn’t added any of them to the Medicaid rolls ... The state says application data forwarded by the online exchange is fraught with errors and duplication. “We’re in the process of sorting it out,” said Brian Kinkade, acting director of the social services department (Young, 2/4).

Arkansas News: Lawmakers Consider Whether Private Option, Medicaid Waiver Conflict
Arkansas’ so-called private option for expanding health insurance coverage does not conflict with the federal Medicaid waiver that allowed the state to implement the program, state Department of Human Services officials and a legislative researcher said Tuesday. Representatives of three conservative groups disagreed. The House and Senate committees on public health, welfare and labor took up the issue less than a week ahead of the start of this year’s fiscal session, during which lawmakers will decide whether to appropriate a second round of federal funding for the private option. The program uses federal Medicaid money to provide private health insurance to low-income Arkansans (Lyon, 2/4).

KUAR: Gov. Mike Beebe Touts Reasons For Continuing Private Option
Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday there are a “multiplicity” of reasons Arkansas legislators should vote to fund Arkansas’ private option plan, and he also took a shot at Republican gubernatorial candidates who “don’t understand the budget” with respect to the private option (Brock, 2/4).

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Nevada’s Medicaid Caseload Grows, Hits Backlog Of About 50,000 Applicants
Nevada’s Medicaid caseload is growing rapidly as eligible residents sign up under Obamacare, creating a backlog of about 50,000 applications awaiting processing in the system, a state panel was told Tuesday. Mike Willden, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, told the state Board of Examiners, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, that the agency ran a backlog of about 10,000 applications before the federal health care law took effect on Jan. 1. “We’re on track to enroll 500,000 people by the end of the year,” he said. The Medicaid caseload as of the end of January was 377,363 (Whaley, 2/4).

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Expansion Only A First Step To Better Health In Troubled W.Va. Communities
It was a frosty December afternoon in downtown Williamson, with hot tomato and beef soup on the menu at Jacobs Well. Ronald Washington warmed up at a long wooden table. The 58-year-old security guard, wearing a striped winter hat and brown jacket, came during his lunch break for one of the free meals that the faith-based mission provides. ... More than 75,000 people have enrolled [in Medicaid] so far, exceeding the state's projection of 63,000. Some advocates for the poor are thrilled, but they caution that insurance coverage alone won't overcome the deeply rooted health problems of many poor West Virginians who live in isolation and poverty (Rao, 2/5).

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