KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

GOP States Struggling With Medicaid Expansion Issues

Meanwhile, McClatchy News reports that higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse among the newly enrolled will be a problem because there aren't enough therapists who accept Medicaid patients. Medicaid expansion developments in New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wyoming and Virginia are also covered.

McClatchy: Medicaid Expansion Is Expected To Strain Mental Health Services
As millions of Americans gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts say their higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders will be difficult to treat due to a lack of counselors and behavioral therapists who accept Medicaid patients. In the District of Columbia and the 25 states where the expansion is under way, nearly 1.2 million uninsured adults newly eligible for coverage will have substance abuse problems, according to federal estimates, and more than 1.2 million are projected to have some sort of mental illness (Pugh, 2/13).

Concord Monitor: Details Of Medicaid Expansion Plan Emerge
The bipartisan group of senators behind a Medicaid expansion deal announced last week said they’ve created a system unique to New Hampshire that will give low-income people access to health care while increasing health care competition and decreasing uncompensated care costs. “I think the federal government could’ve built a model much like we’re building now for the whole thing and been better off,” Senate President Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, said (Ronayne, 2/12).

New Hampshire Union Leader: State Senate Unveils New Medicaid Expansion Plan
The new proposal would allow the state to begin the program by July, although it would end in a year if the state does not receive federal waivers for key aspects. It would end Dec. 31, 2016, anyway if the Legislature does not reauthorize the program. ... The plan announced Wednesday uses the existing Health Insurance Premium Payment program for those with insurance from their employers, so they could continue their coverage while Medicaid would pay the premiums. The program would cover about 12,000 of the 50,000 people helped by expans (12/2).

Bismarck Tribune: Medicaid Enrollment Steadily Rising In North Dakota
State Department of Human Services officials told lawmakers Wednesday that enrollees covered through the Medicaid expansion authorized last year surpassed the 3,000 mark this month. ... That was up from approximately 1,700 through Jan. 1 and 2,138 through Jan. 15. Despite the steadily increasing enrollment, it still amounts to barely 15 percent of the number DHS has long estimated would be eligible under the expansion (Smith, 2/12).

Caspar Star-Tribune: Wyoming Senate Defeats Medicaid Expansion Bill
The Wyoming Senate on Wednesday voted down a bill endorsed by an interim legislative committee that would have allowed the expansion of the Medicaid program in the state. The Senate voted 16 to 14 against considering a bill endorsed by the joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. The bill would have allowed the use of Medicaid funds to pay private health insurance premiums (Neary, 2/12).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House GOP Leaders Maintain Stance Against Medicaid Expansion
Expansion should not move forward, party leaders say ... The proposal, sponsored by Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, would rely on billions of dollars in federal funds reserved for Medicaid expansion, so the private option plan would require approval of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said his panel won’t back the Watkins proposal until pending changes to the state’s Medicaid program are complete (Schmidt, 2/12).

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