KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Tenn. Governor Refuses To Expand Medicaid

Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to expand health insurance coverage for low-income residents, but "on his own terms" by enrolling large numbers in private insurance plans. Media outlets also track developments in Texas, Arizona and Virginia, where pollsters find opinion about the expansion divided along party, gender and racial lines.

The New York Times: Governor Of Tennessee Joins Peers Refusing Medicaid Plan
Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee said Wednesday that he would not expand Medicaid in his state as called for in the federal health care overhaul, joining 18 other Republican governors who have rejected expansion for now (Goodnough, 3/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Tennessee Holds Off On Medicaid Expansion
Mr. Haslam, a Republican, said he wants to broaden health-insurance coverage to more low-income residents in Tennessee using federal funds from the health-care law. But the governor said he wouldn't move forward until he reaches an agreement with federal regulators that allows his state to do so on its own terms. The governor told state lawmakers that he favors enrolling tens of thousands more people in private insurance policies, rather than signing them up for the state's Medicaid program (Radnofsky, 3/27).

USA Today/The Tennessean: Tenn. Gov. Won't Expand Medicaid To Cover Uninsured
Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to leverage federal dollars to purchase private health insurance for Tennesseans without coverage who can't afford it. But the federal Department of Health and Human Services has not signed off on his idea (Sisk and Wilemon, 3/27).

The Hill: Tenn. Governor Rejects Medicaid Expansion
Tennessee will not expand its Medicaid program under President Obama's healthcare law, the governor announced Wednesday. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) was petitioning to use the expansion's federal dollars to subsidize private insurance for low-income Tennesseans, but no agreement was reached before a fiscal deadline forced his hand, according to reports (Viebeck, 3/27).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe Strongly Backs Medicaid Expansion
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday came out strongly in favor of expanding Medicaid in Virginia under the federal Affordable Care Act. “We need to have the Medicaid expansion here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said outside the State Board of Elections headquarters in Richmond, after dropping off petitions with more than 35,000 signatures to qualify for the June 11 primary ballot. … McAuliffe said the state would reap billions in economic benefits (Nolan, 3/28).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Quinnipiac Statewide Survey Shows Sharp Gender, Racial Divides In Va. Over Medicaid Expansion
A new statewide poll in Virginia shows a sharp societal divide over the question of whether to expand Medicaid — something that won’t happen for a while in the state because of reform hurdles Gov. Bob McDonnell has set for it. Quinnipiac University’s survey of 1,098 registered Virginia voters found 45 percent favor expanding the federal-state program that helps pay healthcare costs for the elderly, poor and disabled to about 400,000 Virginians just above the poverty level. Forty-three percent did not (3/28).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginians Split On Medicaid Expansion, New Poll Finds
Virginians are split on whether the state should expand Medicaid, but less divided when it comes to barring concealed handgun permits from public inspection, according to a poll released this morning. Voters disagree on whether the state should expand the health care program for low-income residents, 45 percent-43 percent with deep divisions along party lines, according to Quinnipiac University’s survey of 1,098 registered voters (Meola, 3/28).

The Texas Tribune: Perry, Cruz, Cornyn To Present United Front On Medicaid
Gov. Rick Perry and Texas' two U.S. senators will join forces at the state Capitol on Monday to reassert their opposition to expanding Medicaid, a central tenet of federal health reform that has been a subject of much debate among state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The details of the Monday morning press conference, which will also include representatives from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a conservative think tank, are still being worked out (Ramshaw, 3/27).

Arizona Republic: Abortion Enters Arizona Debate On Medicaid Expansion
One of the Legislature’s most powerful lobbying groups says Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid-expansion plan would subsidize abortions and is pushing for an amendment that complicates negotiations and threatens the proposal. The Center for Arizona Policy is using an opinion from the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal-defense organization, to argue that the draft Medicaid legislation should be amended to disqualify the non-profit women’s health provider Planned Parenthood from receiving public money (Reinhart, 3/27).

In related news -

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Tight Medicaid Eligibility Leads To More Adults Delaying Care
The research letter in the March 28 issue of the journal found the number [of adults delaying necessary care] to vary significantly across the country and to be lower in places with less restrictive eligibility criteria for Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income citizens (Rao, 3/27).

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