Some Republicans propose using Medicaid expansion dollars for private insurance

Published on March 26, 2013 at 2:48 AM · No Comments

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).

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