KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Small Businesses In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid Could Face Penalties

Stateline reports that small businesses in these states are seeking relief from the health law's penalities, which could leave them liable for billions that their counterparts in states that expand Medicaid will not have to pay. Meanwhile, the stalemate in Florida continues. News outlets also report on related developments in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Stateline: Small Businesses Seek Relief From ACA Penalties
When the Affordable Care Act was written, its authors assumed that Medicaid — the federal-state health care plan for the poor — would be expanded to low-income adults in every state. But the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in July 2012 largely upholding the law made the expansion optional. Since then, governors in nearly half of all states have refused to take it up. As a result, small businesses in states that choose not to expand could be liable for billions in federal tax penalties that companies in states that expand Medicaid will not have to pay. "We're strongly advocating that businesses in non-expansion states not be punished," said Kevin Kuhlman, legislative affairs manager for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (Vestal, 4/29).

The Associated Press: Fla. Senate Not Backing Down On Medicaid Expansion
With just four days left in the Legislative session and neither the House nor Senate willing to concede, it seems the Medicaid expansion alternative is at a stalemate and may have to wait until next year, leaving roughly 1.1 million eligible Floridians without health insurance. The Senate had been juggling two proposals for the past few weeks in hopes of reaching an agreement with the House, but on Monday senators squashed the proposal that mirrored the House's plan with little fanfare and no debate (4/30).

Tampa Bay Times: Negron: Compromise On Medicaid Expansion 'Unlikely'
Chances are not good that the House and the Senate will reach agreement on Medicaid expansion or any alternative, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said today. ... "I’d like to pass a bill that provides health insurance premium assistance to a million Floridians who get up and go to work everyday but need some help with paying for their health insurance premiums, that’s what I would prefer," he said. "But that appears unlikely at this point" (Mitchell, 4/29).

Miami Herald: Senate And House Play Hot Potato With Medicaid Bills
The Florida Senate effectively rejected the House’s alternative to expanding Medicaid on Monday, prolonging a stalemate that may prove too difficult to resolve before the legislative session wraps up this week. Senators on Monday took up the House plan, which passed last week, but quickly amended the bill by swapping in their own plan. The Senate is expected to pass the amended bill and send it back to the House Tuesday. What happens after that is anyone's guess (Mitchell, 4/29).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Colorado Medicaid Expansion Moves Forward With One Republican Vote
Both chambers of Colorado's legislature passed bills late last week to expand Medicaid as called for in the Affordable Care Act. The next step is the state Senate is expected to approve amendments to the House version of the bill on Tuesday and send it to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who has said he will sign it (Whitney, 4/29).

The Associated Press: Governor's Health Care Proposal Approved By Iowa House Committee
Gov. Terry Branstad's health care proposal for low-income Iowa residents received committee-level approval in the Republican-majority state House Monday, but the Democratic-controlled Senate instead favors a plan to expand Medicaid. The House appropriations committee approved legislation for the "Healthy Iowa" plan in a party-line vote(Lucey, 4/29).

St. Louis Public Radio: Mo. House Rejects Senate Version Of State Budget, Defeats Another Medicaid Expansion Attempt
As the House went through each bill Monday, another attempt was made by Democrats to expand Medicaid. State Representative Jeff Roorda (D, Barnhart) sponsored the motion. "If you cobbled together every jobs bill, every economic development bill, that has been filed, not passed, but filed in the seven years that I’ve served up here, they don’t even come close to creating the number of jobs that we (would) create through Medicaid expansion," Roorda said. State Representative Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City) argued that Medicaid should not be expanded without first reforming the system. ... The attempt to add nearly $900 million for Medicaid expansion to House Bill 11 failed on a party-line vote (Griffin, 4/30).

The Associated Press: GOP Senator Seeks Delay In Medicaid Shift
A Republican state senator says the state should slow down Gov. Scott Walker's plans to shift thousands of patients from state coverage into the federal health care program, citing concerns that the program won’t be up and running as scheduled by the beginning of 2014. But Sen. Alberta Darling's suggestion faces opposition from within her own party, with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos flatly saying, "Not going to happen" (4/29).

The Associated Press/Detroit Free Press: Michigan Law Enforcement Call For Medicaid Expansion
Law enforcement officials plan to call on state lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 300,000 Michigan residents. The group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and Republican Rep. Matt Lori of Constantine plan to hold an event at the Capitol today. Members of the group include Lansing Township Police Chief Kay Hoffman. The group says Medicaid coverage for expectant mothers can help prevent children from being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. They will also advocate for Medicaid coverage for interventions such as substance abuse and mental and behavioral health issues as a way to cut crime (4/30).

Bangor Daily News: Advocacy Groups Put Pressure On Maine Lawmakers To Support Medicaid Expansion
A coalition of advocacy groups, including AARP Maine, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association, will launch newspaper and radio advertisements Tuesday urging legislators to support a plan that would allow the state to expand Medicaid benefits under the Affordable Care Act. The ad campaign comes after a weekend in which Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic legislative leaders sparred over the proposal and whether it should be linked to a plan to repay the state’s Medicaid debt to Maine's hospitals (Long, 4/29).

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