KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

N.H. Senate, Led By GOP, Votes To Expand Medicaid

Seven Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill, which now goes to the Democratic-controlled House. Meanwhile, tensions are rising in Virginia on the issue as Republicans in the House hold out against the governor's offensive, and in Pennsylvania, the Republican governor amends his requirements for an expansion.

The New York Times: New Hampshire Senate Votes To Expand Health Insurance Coverage
The state's Republican-dominated Senate voted Thursday to expand health care coverage to an estimated 50,000 adults using Medicaid funding made available through the Affordable Care Act. The bill moves to the House, which has passed similar legislation. Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, praised the bill, calling it "a New Hampshire-specific solution to making sure that we can have health care coverage for working men and women throughout the state who haven’t had it before" (Bidgood, 3/6).

Concord Monitor: N.H. Senate Approves Medicaid Expansion, 18-5
After more than two hours of debate and three failed attempts by opponents to amend the bill, the New Hampshire Senate yesterday voted, 18-5, to expand the state Medicaid program. Seven Republicans, including Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem, joined the entire Democratic Senate caucus in supporting the legislation. ... The bill goes next to the House Finance Committee on Monday. The Democratic majority there is supportive of the bill, as is Gov. Maggie Hassan, who would have to sign it before the state can begin submitting necessary paperwork to federal agencies (Palermo, 3/7).

New Hampshire Union Leader: Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion On Bipartisan Vote
Senate Bill 413 uses the current managed-care Medicaid program, an existing program that pays the private health insurance premium for those on employer plans, and private insurance through the state's health insurance exchange to provide health insurance for an estimated 50,000 state residents. Supporters said the bill would help those needing health care, providers and the state economy. But opponents argued it does little to protect taxpayers and will be unaffordable in coming years (Rayno, 3/6).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe Presses Ahead On Medicaid
Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit a Fredericksburg hospital today on his promotional tour for expanding health care to the uninsured, a day after House Republicans launched an unsuccessful attempt to extend the legislative session instead of having a special session to deal with the issue in the state budget. The Fredericksburg area is home turf for House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, who leads the opposition to a Senate plan for extending health coverage to uninsured Virginians as part of its proposed budget. "I’ll be in Fredericksburg … if the speaker would like to come with me," McAuliffe quipped Thursday in a news conference to celebrate the launch of a major Medicaid reform initiative (Meola and Martz, 3/6).

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: McAuliffe Lambasts House Republicans On Medicaid
In some of his most forceful comments yet on Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe condemned Republicans in the House of Delegates on Thursday for refusing to provide health care for the poor even though it is a "life and death" proposition. Speaking at a morning news event heralding a new state pilot program to better treat patients jointly eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, the Democrat denounced his GOP rivals for their unwillingness to even consider the matter (Sizemore and Walker, 3/6).

The Washington Post: In Va., Waiting For Someone To Blink On Medicaid
With two days to go before they are supposed to leave town, House Republicans and Gov. Terry McAuliffe showed no signs Thursday of budging in their standoff over expanding Medicaid, bringing Virginia closer to a historic budget stalemate. McAuliffe (D) continued making his case on behalf of expansion, accusing Republican opponents of ignoring those Virginians who stand to benefit the most from the program. Recounting wrenching stories from a tour of a health clinic in rural Wise County, the governor said: "Folks, this is about life and death. It is not a partisan political game" (Laris, 3/6). 

Philadelphia Inquirer: Corbett Shifts On Medicaid Work-Search Requirement
Gov. Corbett has backed off his insistence that a work-search requirement be included in any expansion of Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, lowering a major stumbling block for approval of his proposal. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Corbett suggested turning the work-search requirement into "a voluntary, one-year pilot program to positively encourage those who are able to work" by reducing premiums (Sapatkin and Worden, 3/7).

Politico Pro: Corbett Drops Employment Requirement For Medicaid Expansion
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has agreed to back off the most controversial element of a proposal to expand Medicaid -- a requirement that able-bodied beneficiaries without full-time work participate in an employment program as a condition of their health coverage. Instead, he's requesting approval for a one-year pilot program that would be voluntary and offer reduced premiums for anyone who signs up. The concession, offered in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that was provided to Politico, may put the state in a stronger position as its waiver request is reviewed (Cheney, 3/6).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Corbett Changes Course On Medicaid
The state will essentially drop a controversial work-search requirement it had sought to impose as part of its overhaul of Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, according to documents that became public Thursday. A letter from Gov. Tom Corbett to Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary, says the governor wants to "move forward in good faith and work towards a reasonable compromise" on the matter. He is instead proposing a voluntary pilot program called "Encouraging Employment" (Giammarise, 3/6).

Health News Florida: 'It's All About Hope' -- and $51B
A lot of money -- $200 million a month or $7 million a day -- could be used to buy health coverage for Florida's poor. But it all could go to some other state, said advocates who held a Capitol press conference Wednesday with the message: "Take the Money!" The money in question is the estimated $51 billion over 10 years that is sitting in Washington D.C., to be sent to Florida to buy health coverage for the poor (Gentry, 3/6). 

The Arizona Republic: Insider: Battle Of Medicaid Bills Meets Predictable End
The battle of the Medicaid bills met a predictable end in the Arizona House of Representatives: Speaker Andy Tobin's bill passed, while a measure from his congressional opponent Adam Kwasman quietly disappeared. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Tobin last month pooh-poohed Kwasman's bill to repeal the Medicaid expansion Gov. Jan Brewer championed, but said he’d still let the 60 representatives decide its fate (Pitzl, 3/6).

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