KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid News: Minn. Effort To Expand Program Praised

Officials in Texas, Oregon, Minnesota and California consider a myriad of changes to their Medicaid programs -- including fitting maintenance or expansion of coverage for the poor into tightening budgets.

MinnPost: Effort To Expand Access To Minnesota's Medical Assistance Program Praised
Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson praised lawmakers and the Dayton administration on Wednesday for working to enroll more low-income Minnesotans on public health programs available under the federal reform law. Democrats are moving forward quickly with legislation this session to expand eligibility for the state's Medical Assistance program to offer 145,000 Minnesotans improved health care, Jesson said during a conference call with reporters (Nord, 1/30).

CQ Healthbeat: Federal, California Officials Rushing To Prevent Expiration Of Duals Demonstration Authority
A California demonstration for people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid is so far behind schedule that the state law authorizing it expires Friday. But state and federal officials hope to keep that from happening. California is one of 26 states that applied to participate in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services federal demonstration for the dually eligible (Adams, 1/30).

The Associated Press: Texas Senate Chairman Seeks Health Budget Changes
Texas will use "all the money that there is available to spend" in the state budget just paying the health care costs of the growing number of poor, disabled and elderly unless dramatic changes are made to the Medicaid system, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Wednesday. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, called on fellow Texas lawmakers and state agency chiefs to prepare themselves to make tough choices but offered no details on how he would change Medicaid, the joint state-federal health program for 3.6 million Texans (Tomlinson, 1/30).

The Lund Report: Flares Still Brewing Over Integration Of Dental Care
Mike Shirtcliff insists he's not trying to derail the transformation process and says that he supports the integration of dental care into coordinated care organizations, better known as CCOs. He just wants to make certain patient care isn't sidelined by the process. Currently, 650,000 people on Medicaid receive physical and mental health services from the 15 CCOs throughout Oregon (Lund-Muzikant, 1/30).

California Healthline: Using Data To Simplify Medi-Cal Enrollment
A different approach to Medi-Cal eligibility renewal was floated yesterday at an informational seminar in Sacramento. The idea is to limit the amount of forms and paperwork in renewing Medi-Cal eligibility. That might be accomplished in part by using statistical analysis of eligibility data to determine which beneficiaries don't need to fill out new forms when their Medi-Cal benefits are up for renewal, said Stan Dorn, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "The traditional way to handle Medicaid enrollment is very paperwork-intensive," Dorn said (Gorn, 1/31).

California Healthline: Access Denied? Implications Of Medi-Cal Pay Cut
In 2014, about 1.5 million adults in California are expected to gain access to Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act. However, insurance coverage could be all they get, as some observers say there might not be enough doctors willing to treat them. The fiscal year 2013-2014 budget proposal that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released this month could be read as contradictory. On one hand, he makes it clear that California will pursue a full expansion of Medi-Cal, offering coverage to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. At the same time, however, the governor's budget plan also counts on $488.4 million in savings from a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal reimbursements. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. State officials maintain that the provider pay cut should not hurt access to care during the expansion, but others fear the reduction could be implemented at the worst possible time (Wayt, 1/30).

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