KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Legal Concerns Raised Over Making Medicaid Recipients Work In Missouri

Elsewhere, some business groups enlist help to get their states to expand the program. Also, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urges Georgia's governor to accept the expansion, which also makes news in New Hampshire and Utah.

The Associated Press: Legal Experts Cite Concern About Missouri Medicaid Bill
Legal experts raised concern Monday about Missouri legislation that would require many adult Medicaid recipients to work in order to receive health care coverage. The work requirement is part of a broader proposal that would remodel Missouri’s Medicaid program to be more like private-sector insurance and expand coverage for hundreds of thousands of lower-income adults (Lieb, 3/10).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Proposed Medicaid Work Requirements Questioned At Missouri Hearing
Measures intended to require new working-age Medicaid recipients to participate in the workforce drew questions at a House committee hearing Monday. The hearing focused solely on the cost-saving and "reform" elements of a proposal put forward by Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence. Those include treatment for those with drug or alcohol problems, lessening emergency room use, encouraging the use of private plans and requiring providers (French, 3/10).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Business Groups Split On Medicaid Expansion
With several states weighing whether to expand Medicaid under the federal health law, supporters are looking to powerful business groups to help sway skeptical state legislators. But those groups are split on the issue — just like the public at large (Galewitz, 3/10).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Sebelius Urges Deal To Expand Medicaid
With three weeks to go before the end of open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday urged Georgians to explore their coverage options before it's too late. Sebelius, visiting Atlanta Monday morning, also said she hopes Gov. Nathan Deal will still consider expanding the state’s Medicaid program, another key element of the Affordable Care Act. Georgia is losing out on $9.2 million in federal funding every day because it’s not expanding, she said, pointing out that, meanwhile, hospitals and taxpayers are picking up the cost of caring for the uninsured (Williams, 3/10).

Georgia Health News: Sebelius Urges Georgians To Sign Up For Exchange
Sebelius also made a pitch for Georgia and other states to expand their Medicaid programs. Under the ACA, the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the costs of expansion for the first three years for states that opt to expand coverage. Georgia is one of many states that have decided not to do so. "Georgia is losing $9.2 million a day in federal funding" by not expanding the program, Sebelius said. The uninsured “are still coming through the doors of the emergency room," she said. "In the meantime, taxpayers are picking up that cost." But expansion in Georgia appears to be a political long shot, at least for now. Gov. Nathan Deal says expansion would ultimately cost the state too much (Miller, 3/10).

New Hampshire Union Leader: Medicaid Expansion's Benefits Extolled Before House Finance Committee
State Sen. Sylvia Larsen called last week's 18-5 Senate vote in favor of Medicaid expansion the "culmination of a long bipartisan process," as she urged the House to follow suit and approve a plan to extend the federally funded health insurance program to 50,000 or more low-income New Hampshire residents. In testimony on Monday before the House Finance Committee, the Concord Democrat used the word "bipartisan" at least four times, calling the Senate compromise similar to bills previously passed in the House (Solomon, 3/10).

Concord Monitor: House Committee Reviews Senate's Medicaid Expansion Bill
With a few pointed questions, House lawmakers took their first look at the Senate's plan to expand Medicaid to low-income New Hampshire residents. The Democratic majority of the House passed its own versions of an expansion program in January and November, but the bill before the House Finance Committee yesterday is the only proposal so far to win support from Republicans in control of the Senate. Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, has advocated for expanded Medicaid since taking office last year and has said she will sign this bill if it reaches her desk (Palmero, 3/10).

Deseret News: House Won't Consider Senate's Partial Medicaid Expansion Plan
The Utah Senate passed a partial Medicaid expansion plan Monday that also gives Gov. Gary Herbert the ability to seek a federal block grant to pay for the proposal he rolled out last month. But majority Republican leaders in the House won't consider the bill, meaning lawmakers won't have a united approach to deal with the issue before the 2014 Legislature ends Thursday (Romboy, 3/10).

Salt Lake Tribune: Senate To Gov. Herbert: Negotiate Utah Medicaid Plan
Any decision on how Utah will provide health coverage to tens of thousands of its poorest residents seems to be months off and rests largely in the hands of Gov. Gary Herbert after the House and Senate reached an apparent impasse on the issue. The Senate on Monday passed SB251s1, which would draw on federal Medicaid funds to provide health-insurance subsidies to about 54,000 Utahns who make less than $11,600 a year. At the same time, the bill gives Herbert the green light to go to Washington to try to strike a better deal with the Obama administration, if he can. ... But House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said the House will not consider Shiozawa’s bill or the Medicaid expansion proposal Herbert recently offered -- but that doesn’t prevent (Gehrke and Davidson, 3/10).

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