KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

New Medicaid ‘Doughnut Hole’ Creating Some Pressure On States, Federal Officials

Health law advocates are concerned about low-income residents who are left out of the health overhaul in states that are not expanding Medicaid. Meanwhile, in other states, new enrollment in the joint federal-state program is strong.

California Healthline: The New Health Coverage Gap: Will Obama Or States Take Action To Close It?
Now, there is a new doughnut hole -- a gap in health insurance options for low-income individuals in states that opt against expanding Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act was built with a safety net for people who fall short of requirements for subsidized insurance through the exchanges: the Medicaid expansion. However, with many states are refusing to participate in the expansion, observers are questioning whether federal or state officials will act first, or at all, to close the gap (Wayt, 11/20).

NPR: Medicaid Enrollment Is Brisk Despite HealthCare.gov Troubles
Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people (Rovner, 11/20).

On the local scene -

Politico: Scott Walker Treads Own Path On ACA
[Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker built his own plan on his rejection of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Instead, he's taking nearly 80,000 people off the state's generous Medicaid program and encouraging them to join the Obamacare insurance exchange, where they can get federal subsidies. That would, in turn, make room to extend BadgerCare, as Medicaid is known there, to poorer people. He's calling it a "creative alternative" and using it to polish his reputation as an outside-the-box innovator. But that was before the HealthCare.gov catastrophe made it so difficult to enroll (Cheney, 11/20).

The Associated Press: Parnell Rejects Medicaid Expansion
Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday rejected calls to expand Medicaid in Alaska, citing cost concerns. The Republican governor has faced mounting pressure from health, advocacy and business organizations urging him to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law (Bohrer, 11/20).

The Associated Press: Pence Asks Sebelius For Meeting On Health Care
[Indiana] Gov. Mike Pence has requested a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss issues that may be blocking a federal approval of using the state's health savings accounts to expand Medicaid coverage in Indiana, his office said Tuesday (11/20).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Health Insurance Customers Want Simpler System
No one mentioned cancellation notices. And no one expressed concerns about costs. Instead, at a sparsely attended public meeting about health insurance issues Tuesday evening, potential customers wanted to know if they could skip filling out Colorado's complex Medicaid application. … Colorado's new insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar, hosted the meeting. Her office doesn't run Medicaid programs. It regulates insurance companies and approves plans and rates. Still, most consumers wanted to know about holdups with Medicaid and no one from that office attended (Kerwin McCrimmon, 11/20).

The Associated Press: Bohlinger Calls for Medicaid Expansion
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Bohlinger is calling on [Montana] Gov. Steve Bullock to convene a special legislative session to expand Medicaid to another 70,000 residents, a proposal that was rejected by lawmakers earlier this year (Volz, 11/20).

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