KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Slashing At Least $4.7 Billion From Medicaid Plans

Reuters reports on a study of the state cuts by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Also, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is looking to expand its Medicaid business and a California study explores the high number of young people without insurance.

Reuters: Medicaid Cuts May Limit Care For New 2014 Enrollees
Three years before Medicaid is due to cover millions of uninsured Americans, state funding cuts may be undermining how much care the government-run health insurance program for the poor will offer new enrollees. Two dozen states across the country plan to slash at least $4.7 billion from their Medicaid plans following four straight years of budget shortfalls, according to data provided separately by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the consumer advocacy group Families USA. The cuts would include reductions of up to 15 percent in reimbursement rates for doctors, hospitals and other care providers, higher co-pays for beneficiaries, including children, and the loss of optional benefits such as preventive care and dental and vision services (Morgan, 8/11). 

Detroit Free Press: Blues Asks State For OK For Wider Medicaid Sales
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has asked the state for approval to sell its Medicaid policies to a broader part of Wayne County. The request, submitted last week to Michigan's insurance regulators, shows the company is intent on growing its Medicaid business, starting on its home turf. The Blues, based in Detroit, is the state's largest insurer with more than 4.6 million subscribers. On Tuesday, the Blues and a Philadelphia Blue Cross company announced plans to buy the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies, a Pennsylvania Medicaid, pharmacy benefits and behavioral health provider firm, with hopes of selling Medicaid nationwide, possibly with other Blues plans (Anstett, 8/12).

California Healthline: Uninsured Healthier Than Current Medi-Cal Beneficiaries
Helen Lee was surprised by a few of the findings in a study released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California. "We find a relatively young population among the uninsured," the PPIC policy fellow said. "In fact, more than half were in the 19 to 40 group." ... The younger age and relative health of potential enrollees makes for a more-attractive insurance pool, which could mean lower rates can be negotiated by the exchange board. "Perhaps the most salient questions of interest involve the potential health care demands on delivery systems," Lee said. "In general, the uninsured were healthier than current recipients of Medi-Cal" (Gorn, 8/11).

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