KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Democrats Tout Medicaid Expansion In Campaigns

But House Republicans are divided over their promise to vote on a health law alternative this year as millions of Americans are now enrolled in expanded Medicaid and subsidized private coverage. Meanwhile, a proposed tightening of work requirements for Utahans getting food stamps could complicate the state's push to expand Medicaid, and hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid are treating fewer charity cases.

Politico: Democrats Embrace Medicaid Expansion On Trail
Democrats have found a big piece of Obamacare that nearly all factions of their party can back -- and they say it’ll be a winning issue on the campaign trail this fall. Even some of the Democrats running for reelection in red states are embracing the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion and, along with their compatriots, pressuring Republican governors and legislatures to do the same (Haberkorn, 6/4).

Associated Press:  House GOP Conflicted On Health Law Alternative
House Republicans are united as ever in their election-year opposition to "Obamacare," but they're increasingly divided over their promise to vote this year on an alternative to it. The disagreement comes amid a shifting political calculus around President Barack Obama's health care law. Millions are enrolled for medical insurance through the law's exchanges, and an all-out repeal has become less practical and popular. Some Democrats have begun promoting the measure in campaign commercials, and some Republicans are treading more carefully in belittling the program. At a recent closed-door House Republican caucus meeting, several conservatives pressed GOP leaders over the pledge Majority Leader Eric Cantor made in January that House Republicans would rally around an alternative to "Obamacare" and pass it this year (Werner, 6/4).

Denver Post: Medicaid Expansion Reducing Hospital Losses From Uninsured, Study Says
Hospitals in Colorado and 25 states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act treated fewer charity cases and other uninsured patients in the first quarter of 2014, according to a study released this week. Researchers concluded that the previously uninsured represented the lion's share of new Medicaid enrollees. The Colorado Hospital Association study, released Monday, gathered data from 465 hospitals in 30 states. It showed more people are finding coverage who didn't have it before, rather than people with private insurance switching to public insurance under Medicaid's eased eligibility requirements (Draper, 6/3).

Salt Lake City Tribune: Utah’s Medicaid Work Requirement: Details Revealed
A proposed tightening of the work requirements for Utahns who receive food stamps could complicate the state’s push for federal flexibility with its Medicaid expansion. Able-bodied adults must spend at least 20 hours a week working or in job training in order to receive food stamps, after an initial three-month grace period. A loophole gives recipients the option of volunteering at certified "work sites," such as food pantries, instead of working in a paid job. The state is considering closing that loophole — and possibly applying the same work requirements to Utahns covered under a Medicaid expansion (Stewart, 6/3).

In other Medicaid news -

CQ Healthbeat: Pharmacy Coalition Wins Extra Time On Medicaid Payment Changes
Pharmacists expressed relief Tuesday after federal Medicaid officials said they will postpone the finalization of a new drug payment policy that would change drugstores’ reimbursements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not say when they would complete the policy, which was called for in the 2010 health care law. The agency said it will stick to its plans to issue further details on implementing the policy through a future guidance memo, and that the upcoming memo will include a new effective date. “We remain committed to ensuring that this guidance is provided to states with sufficient time to implement” the policy, said CMS in the notice (Adams, 6/3).

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