KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Fla. Gov. Fears Medicaid Expansion As Idaho, Missouri And Colorado Wrestle With Issue ; Few Acceptable Options For Improving Medicare

The New York Times: Scorecard On Health Insurance Exchanges
Twenty-three states, most led by Republican officials, have declared that they will not set up their own health insurance exchanges to help individuals and small businesses find affordable coverage. ... Residents of states where political leaders seem bent on frustrating or sabotaging the health care reforms might well be better off with a federally run exchange (1/6).

The Washington Post: Repairs To Medicare
Liberals would empower the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB) to stop payment for treatments it deems not cost-effective. The idea hasn't gotten very far, partly because Republicans denounce it as "rationing." Conservatives favor "premium support," which would subsidize seniors to shop among competing insurance plans, but Democrats, the president included, have tarred that idea as a skimpy "voucher." It's unfortunate but not disastrous that no structural solution is, for the moment, politically possible (1/6).

Tampa Bay Times: Working For Affordable Health Care For Floridians
On Monday, I will meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Washington. ... I believe that having a safety net health care system — like Medicaid — is absolutely critical for those who need it most. But we must understand if we can afford to nearly double (from 3.3 million to 6.1 million by 2022-23) the number of Floridians using Medicaid today under the new law. We must also be certain that nearly doubling the people in this program would improve health care services, not just for those in government-run programs but all Floridians who would be impacted by such a dramatic growth of government in the health care marketplace (Gov. Rick Scott, 1/6).

Tampa Bay Times: Florida Needs Medicaid Expansion 
Embracing the Medicaid expansion would be a humane step and a practical one. ... Scott has argued that Florida cannot afford to expand a program that has been eating an ever larger share of the state budget. Using new numbers from the state Agency for Health Care Administration, Scott claims the cost for taxpayers of the expansion is $63 billion over 10 years, with Florida's share at nearly $26 billion. This figure is just plain wrong (1/6).

Denver Post: Colorado's Medicaid Expansion Plan Must Cut Costs
To understand Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's decision to expand Medicaid coverage in Colorado, it helps to buy into the assessment that doing (so) makes financial sense. ... offering health care coverage to an additional 160,000 adults — who currently cost all of us money — and launching wide-ranging plans to contain costs and spur innovation are notable public policy goals that we'd like to see succeed. But given the state of the state treasury, it is imperative that cost savings are truly found and not just promised (1/7).

The Idaho Statesman: Expanding Health Care Coverage Benefits All Idahoans
As a member of Gov. Butch Otter’s task force, which voted 15-0 in favor of this [Medicaid] expansion, here are eight reasons why: 1. It saves Idaho money. The expansion of Medicaid to 150,000 people will cost Idaho $284 million over the next 10 years. However, the federal government’s payment program for this expansion will bring in $290 million to the state over that time. Idaho stands to gain $6 million by expanding Medicaid. Conversely, there are 70,000 Idahoans who already meet the expanded eligibility requirements and their coverage will cost the state hundreds of millions of additional dollars without the benefit of enhanced federal payment if we don’t do this (Dr. Ted Epperly, 1/6).

Kansas City Star: Bid To Renew KC’s Extra Health Levy Merits Scrutiny
Almost eight years ago, Kansas Citians narrowly approved a property tax increase to provide more public funds for indigent health care. It was a compassionate decision by voters. But the world of health care has changed a great deal since then. ... Truman Medical Centers and a few other medical care providers in Kansas City still want to keep receiving the extra health levy. ... If Missouri does not adopt Medicaid expansion or progress on the exchanges is delayed, the squeeze will be on hospitals in earnest to keep their doors open to serve indigent patients in Kansas City and the state. Still, the City Council and local health care providers must use this week’s hearing to start providing clear evidence they need a $135 million tax renewal over nine years (1/6).

Los Angeles Times: Another Surgery – While Knee-Deep In The Insurance Swamp
The other thing I dread is the stream of medical mail that is guaranteed to land in my mailbox every few days, every last bit of it entirely indecipherable. BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois keeps sending me things that say, "This is not a bill." Then don't send it to me. ... I can honestly tell you that I have no idea whether I've paid what I owe, or if that's even been determined (Steve Lopez, 1/5).

Baltimore Sun: CIA Deception Threatens Global Effort To Eradicate Polio
The news that the Central Intelligence Agency had been running a fake vaccination program in Pakistan first surfaced in 2011 and quickly ignited fears that the covert operation could compromise the global campaign to eradicate polio. ... many worry that the violence will continue unless the U.S. government takes steps to rebuild trust in Pakistan and ensure that the CIA can never again infiltrate efforts to fight global health problems that affect all of us, from residents of Karachi to people living here in Baltimore (Drs. Lynn Goldman and Michael Klag, 1/7).

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