KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Minn. Gov. Decides To Not Expand Medicaid Early; Ohio Wrestles With Increased Medicaid Costs In Overhaul; Kansas Officials Worry About 25% Cut In Health Policy Operating Budget

MinnPost: "As expected, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has declined the opportunity for Minnesota to get an early shot at expanding Medicaid eligibility. The federal health plan calls for all states to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults without children in 2014, but Minnesota was among a few states offered a chance to do it earlier." The legislature, however, passed a measure that would allow Pawlenty's successor next year to reverse his ruling (Kimball, 6/22). 

Meanwhile, "HHS is applauding Connecticut as the first state to move 45,000 low-income adults from a state-funded program to Medicaid, saving the state an estimated $53 million through July 2011 with federal dollars," CongressDaily reports. "The state's move, which became official Monday, comes as a result of provisions in the healthcare overhaul law allowing states to start covering low-income, childless adults in Medicaid right away. … But at a time when savings are tough to find for states and the federal government alike and deficit spending for entitlement programs, like Medicaid, is unpopular, the increased federal funds might seem like a bonus for those states that were already spending more to cover low-income, childless adults" (McCarthy, 6/23). 

The Columbus Dispatch: "Ohio taxpayers will spend $1.45 billion in the coming years to finance a sharp expansion of the state Medicaid program required under the new federal health-care law. How good a deal that is depends on whom you ask. Advocates for the uninsured say it's a bargain. They stress that the federal government will pick up most of the expansion cost -- $16 billion during the first six years beginning in 2014. Ohio's share, they say, translates to $444 a year for each of the estimated 544,000 new enrollees in the state health-care program for the poor and disabled. But elected officials who opposed the health-care law and other critics say it is an expense that Ohio -- facing an $8 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget -- cannot afford" (Candisky, 6/23).

Kansas Health Institute: "The Kansas Health Policy Authority can't absorb a 25-percent cut in its operating budget and keep doing what it's doing, the agency's executive director told board members Tuesday. [Andy Allison] said that in the coming months, the agency will have to cut back on services it provides that today are taken for granted. The health policy authority oversees the state Medicaid program and the health benefit plan for state employees. For example, Allison said, the agency may have to quit mediating payment disputes between providers and the state's managed care contractors. … In the past three years, lawmakers coping with steep reductions in state revenues because of the recession have cut the administrative portion of the agency's operating budget by 25 percent – from $22.8 million in fiscal 2008 to $17 million for fiscal 2011, which begins July 1" (Ranney, 6/22).

The New York Times: In New York, "state lawmakers passed legislation this week that would require insurers to cover autism-related screenings, diagnoses and treatments. The move was a relief for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, but was sure to increase insurance premiums across the board. The State Assembly passed the measure Monday night, a few weeks after it passed in the Senate. The measure passed unanimously in both houses. It now goes to Gov. David A. Paterson. New York would become the 22nd state in which insurers are required to cover autism-related treatments" (Hakim, 6/22).

Health News Florida: "Most health policies that cover small groups and individuals in Florida – including the state's own Cover Florida plan – likely will flunk federal requirements that take effect in September, the governor's office says. In fact, Florida law itself is at odds with the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law March 23, said Dave Foy, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Charlie Crist. Six months after the effective date, the Act says, all major medical plans will have to get rid of lifetime limits on coverage. They will also be severely restricted in the annual limits they can set, which will be governed by rules still to come from the Department of Health and Human Services" (Gentry, 6/22).

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