KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

State Round-Up: Colorado’s Medicaid Woes, Utah’s Health Exchange, And More

Thursday's state news includes concerns over Medicaid reimbursement cuts in Colorado, the opening of the Utah Health Exchange amidst skyrocketing premiums and the high number of uninsured in Texas.

Denver Business Journal: "Concerns are arising over whether cuts to the Medicaid reimbursement rate in Colorado will drive some medical providers to stop accepting low-income patients. Gov. Bill Ritter announced Tuesday that he will reduce such rates by 1.5 percent for medical providers and 2.5 percent for providers of behavioral-health and developmental-disability services to help close a $318 million budget shortfall" (Sealover, 8/19).

The Denver Post adds that "Advocates for the homeless, indigent and uninsured say that while deep budget cuts will affect all Coloradans, the poorest will feel the sharpest pain. Community health and homeless outreach organizations stand to lose at least $60 million in state and federal money, including the abolishment of a $200 monthly stipend that many disabled indigents count as their only income" (8/20).

The Salt Lake Tribune: "There was a celebratory air in the Utah Capitol's extravagant Gold Room on Wednesday as Gov. Gary Herbert declared the Utah Health Exchange 'open for business.' The state-run Web site will permit participating small businesses to offer employees a health care stipend, which workers can use to shop on the site and select the health insurance plans that best fits their lives. Herbert called the site 'a model' for private-sector health insurance solutions. But, he added, the state is 'still far from finished with reform'" (LaPlante, 8/19).

In a separate article, The Salt Lake Tribune reports that "since 2000 in Utah, health insurance premiums have increased more than four times faster than the median wage, [a new report by Families USA] found. Premiums for families have nearly doubled, while the median wage increased about 22 percent between 2000 and 2009" (Mcfarland, 8/19).

Newsweek: "Texas has the highest uninsured population in the country, according to a Gallup poll released earlier today. More than one fourth of Texans-26.9 percent-ages 18 and older were completely uninsured." Texas Republicans "have been quick to pin the state's abysmal insurance record on the high number of undocumented immigrants living within its borders." But "numerous studies, including ones by the Texas Department of Insurance, indicate that roughly 80 percent of those the Gallup organization or the Census Bureau would count as uninsured are actually U.S. citizens. 'If we took all the immigrants out of Texas-legal and illegal-we would still have the highest uninsured rate in the country,' says Eva DeLuna, a budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), an Austin-based think tank" (Interlandi, 8/19).

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