KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Study: Medicaid Patients’ Health Could Impact Health Law’s Bottom Line

The New York Times reports on a news study concluding that Medicaid surgery patients ultimately cost more than those on private insurance -- a finding that may foreshadow what happens as the Medicaid rolls grow under the health law.

The New York Times: Poorer Health Of Surgery Patients On Medicaid May Alter Law’s Bottom Line
Surgery patients covered by Medicaid arrive at the hospital in worse health, experience more complications, stay longer and cost more than patients with private insurance, a new study has found. The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, may offer a preview of what to expect as millions of uninsured people qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Pear, 5/17).

Meanwhile, news from California and Iowa details complications related to the expansion -

The California Health Report: New Medi-Cal Renewal Process Could Lead To Loss Of Coverage, Advocates Say
New enrollment forms the Medi-Cal program is using because of changes brought about by federal health reform are so confusing that they could lead to tens of thousands of eligible recipients losing their benefits, say advocates for the poor. County officials say the new format will ultimately make it easier for recipients to remain eligible from one year to the next. But critics say the forms ask for detailed information about income and tax deductions that many recipients might not understand or have at their disposal. To make matters worse, the forms are currently available only in English and Spanish, leaving many recipients unable even to read them (Boyd-Barrett, 5/16).

The Des Moines Register: 230,000 Iowans Remain Uninsured
The Affordable Care Act's effects have yet to be seen at Iowa's free clinics, where uninsured people continue to line up for care five months after the federal law's main provisions took effect.The law's programs have provided new health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of Iowans, and improved coverage to 50,000 others who had skimpy benefits. State leaders say they have enrolled more people into public insurance plans than they expected to by now. But a new report estimates about three-quarters of Iowans who lacked health insurance last year remain uninsured (Leys, 5/19).

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