KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Highlights: Va. Gov. Calls For Medicaid Expansion; States Examine Paid Sick Leave

The Associated Press: Terry McAuliffe Takes Oath As Va.'s 72nd Governor
In his speech, McAuliffe made a brief pitch for one of his top legislative priorities — expanding Medicaid to about 400,000 low-income Virginians under the federal health care reform law. The proposal faces a tough hurdle in the GOP-controlled House. "Like the majority of other states, we need to act on the consensus of the business community and health care industry to accept funding that will expand health care coverage, save rural hospitals, and spur job creation," the governor said (O’Dell, 1/11).

The Washington Post: Eight Things To Watch In The McAuliffe Administration
Abortion access. McAuliffe has promised to be a "brick wall" against new limits on the procedure. But how far will he go in trying to roll back some of the restrictions imposed under McDonnell? Abortion rights activists hope — and anti-abortion groups fear — that he will soften the strict building codes imposed on clinics through administrative action. ... Medicaid expansion. House lawmakers are flatly opposed the Democrat's top legislative goal, which they say will cost Washington money it doesn't have, with Virginia left picking up a $5 million-a-day tab. McAuliffe hopes delegates from conservative rural districts will be swayed, if not by him then by hospitals in their districts, which stand to lose money if the health-care program for the poor is not extended to more Virginians (Vozzella, 1/11).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Analysis: Newly Minted Governor Opens Term With Short List Of Goals
But Republicans sat quietly as McAuliffe called on the General Assembly to expand Medicaid to provide coverage for the uninsured under President Barack Obama's health care law. The idea is favored by business and hospitals as a way to pump billions into the economy. "We’ll have to agree to disagree," said Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, an opponent of Medicaid expansion and a senior member of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee (Schapiro, 1/12).

USA Today: States, Cities Prescribe Paid Sick Leave Rules
A growing number of cities and states are starting to require employers to provide paid sick leave. Jersey City's Earned Sick Time Ordinance goes into effect Jan. 24. New York City's Earned Sick Time Act -- passed in June when the City Council overrode a veto by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- goes into effect April 1. They join such cities as Portland, Ore., where paid sick leave rules went into effect Jan. 1; Seattle, where paid sick leave rules went into effect Sept. 1, 2012; Washington in 2008; and San Francisco, which passed such regulations in 2006 and implemented them in 2007 (Daneman, 1/12). 

The New York Times: Twinned Cities Now Following Different Paths
The soaring Blatnik Bridge spans a modest body of water but a political gulf. ... This is a well-traveled commute between the Minnesota and Wisconsin cities, separated by the St. Louis River. Together, they are known as the Twin Ports for their shared role as a major cargo port, and people on both sides share Scandinavian, German and Irish roots, working-class pasts and a stoic sensibility hardened by a steady chill off Lake Superior. ... But these days, when residents cross the bridge, they enter starkly different political territories. Since Republicans in Wisconsin took control of the State Legislature and governor’s office in 2011, and since Democrats gained full dominance in Minnesota last year, people here have watched essential elements of their daily lives -- their savings plans, job expectations, personal relationships and health insurance -- veer apart (Davey, 1/12). 

The Associated Press: NY Gov. Takes Careful Step On Medical Marijuana
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a political splash by introducing a medical marijuana plan in the State of the State speech, but his cautious approach has been met with skepticism from pot advocates who question whether the proposal is mostly for show. While nearly two dozen states have OK'd marijuana for medical purposes and Colorado and Washington have legalized its use for pleasure, Cuomo is tapping a 1980 state law to allow as many as 20 hospitals to dispense the drug to people with certain severe illnesses as an experimental research project (Peltz and Caruso, 1/11).

The CT Mirror: Fewer Kids Losing Medicaid, But Those Turning 1 Or 18 Still Vulnerable
The number of children and adolescents dropped from the state's HUSKY health care program fell during a recent two-year period, but those turning 1 and 18 are still especially vulnerable to losing their medical benefits, according to a report released Friday. The report follows up on earlier findings that thousands of 1-year-olds and 18-year-olds were inadvertently losing Medicaid coverage because of administrative glitches and confusing notices from the state Department of Social Services (Becker, 1/10).

California Healthline: Advocates Surprised, Disappointed At What's Missing From Brown's Budget
Health care advocates were "surprised and upset" that so many recent cutbacks and program eliminations remained static in Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) proposed budget released yesterday. "For this year, there's very good news," Brown said yesterday at a Sacramento press conference. "But by no means are we out of the wilderness. We must be very prudent in the way we spend public funds" (Gorn, 1/10).

The Associated Press: Doctor Shortage In New Mexico Expected To Worsen
New Mexico officials say the state is facing its worst shortage of primary-care providers at a time when thousands are expected to enroll in state and federal health insurance exchanges. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that the federal government has designated every county statewide, except one, as having a shortage. The latest figures show the state has 1,429 active primary physicians but another 219 are needed, based on the population (1/12).

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