Some governors who initially opposed the health law's Medicaid expansion are proposing to use the federal money to allow low-income people to buy private insurance in the new exchanges. News outlets report on those and related developments in Tennessee, California, Missouri, Florida and Kansas.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republicans' Firm 'No' On Medicaid Expansion Is Shifting Toward 'Let's Make A Deal'
A new "no, but ..." approach is spreading among GOP states in which officials are still publicly condemning the Democratic president's Medicaid expansion yet floating alternatives that could provide health coverage to millions of low-income adults while potentially tapping into billions of federal dollars that are to start flowing in 2014 (3/24).
Stateline: Expanding Medicaid With Private Insurance
The governors of Ohio and Arkansas, seeking a way around conservative state legislators who refuse to expand Medicaid, want to insure some of their poorest residents using a market-based approach. The federal government appears likely to allow Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Democratic Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas to use federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for low-income people from the new health-care "exchanges" that will be created under the Affordable Care Act. They plan to use the strategy to cover newly eligible adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (Vestal, 3/22).
The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid-Expansion Puzzle
Deciding whether to expand Tennessee's Medicaid program as part of the federal health-care law should be easy for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and the GOP leaders of the state legislature. All of them oppose the health law. They watched the state significantly extend eligibility in the 1990s for its Medicaid program, TennCare, only to see costs eat into the state budget and prompt lawmakers a decade later to kick several hundred thousand people off the rolls. But the decision is proving anything but simple (Radnofsky, 3/24).
The New York Times: Tennessee Race for Medicaid: Dial Fast and Try, Try Again
Two nights a year, Tennessee holds a health care lottery of sorts, giving the medically desperate a chance to get help. State residents who have high medical bills but would not normally qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, can call a state phone line and request an application. But the window is tight -; the line shuts down after 2,500 calls, typically within an hour -; and the demand is so high that it is difficult to get through (Goodnough, 3/24).
Los Angeles Times: Outreach Effort Aims To Get Uninsured Enrolled In Healthcare
The goal is to hold ongoing enrollment events throughout the county in the lead up to the healthcare overhaul, which begins Jan. 1. … The county Department of Health Services has partnered with OneLA, an organization of churches, synagogues and nonprofit groups, to conduct the enrollment sessions. Volunteers are identifying people through the church parishes and doing pre-screening so the enrollment can occur on the spot. Some of the people are eligible for Medi-Cal, and others are being enrolled in Healthy Way LA, a temporary coverage program until the Medi-Cal expansion takes place in 2014 (Gorman, 3/25).
St. Louis Beacon: Mental Health Patients, Advocates Make Case For Expanding Medicaid In Missouri
William Shortall is among 50,000 Missourians who are in a bind because they don't have sufficient insurance to cover treatment for their mental health problems…The Affordable Care Act was supposed to throw a lifeline to people like Shortal by extending Medicaid to uninsured Missourians with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty, which is roughly $26,000 for a family of three (Joiner, 3/22).
Health News Florida: Senate Republicans, Democrats Back 'Healthy FL'
State Sen. Joe Negron's "Healthy Florida" plan, officially launched without dissent Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee, has already attracted support from a broad swath of industries and leaders of both political parties (Gentry, 3/22).
Kansas Health Institute: House Speaker Talks About Medicaid Expansion, Reading Initiative, Autism Mandate
House leaders today expressed support for a Senate budget provision that would bar expansion of the state's Medicaid program without the Legislature's OK. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stillwell Republican, said he sided with language added to the Senate budget bill Thursday that would bar state agencies from spending any money to expand eligibility for the Kansas Medicaid program without the expressed consent of the Legislature (Ranney, 3/22).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.