Medicaid: Texas GOP Activists Push To Drop The Program; Fla. Nurse Practitioners Vy For Larger Role

Dallas Morning News: "Tea party members and other conservative activists pushed state lawmakers Tuesday to vote to nullify the federal health care law and get out of Medicaid, though one GOP senator said the largely federally funded program pays for nursing home care for the elderly and disabled and is 'not all bad.' … Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina and dozens of others said the Legislature should declare the federal law void and also refuse to set up a state health insurance exchange. … Leading Republican senators ... found themselves arguing against suggestions that the state forgo billions in federal Medicaid funds and cut off current recipients (Garrett, 11/23).

Dallas Morning News, in a separate story: A study required by a state bill last session, "of what Texas would do if the national Medicaid health program for the poor were abolished -- or federal matching money to states were slashed -- will examine how the state might improve its existing Medicaid or scrap it, Health and Human Services Commission chief Tom Suehs said today." The study will be ready "early next month" and Suehs "said a major theme will be that states such as Texas with a high proportion of poor, uninsured residents are mistreated by the current Medicaid formula for determining how much federal match money a state gets" (Garrett, 11/23).

The (New London, Conn.) Day: "A coalition of health care provider groups, social workers and advocates for the poor asked the federal government on Monday to reverse the state's decision to let insurers negotiate lower reimbursement for doctors and hospitals in the HUSKY health insurance program [the state's Medicaid managed care program]. ... The department changed the portion of the 2009 waiver agreement that said that the insurers that offer HUSKY coverage - Aetna, AmeriChoice and the nonprofit Connecticut Health Network - must pay participating doctors and other providers of care at rates at least equal to those paid under traditional fee-for-service Medicaid" (Mann, 11/23).

Sunshine State News: Nursing advocates in Florida argue that they could save the state at least $1 billion if nurse practitioners could be used by the Medicaid program. "Though Florida's nurse practitioners must meet the national standards, the state is one of just two that severely restricts their scope of practice, says Susan Lynch, a nurse practitioner in Orlando." Stan Whittaker, chairman of the Florida Council of Advanced Practice Nurses PAC, "said, 'Utilizing (nurse practitioners) has significantly reduced costs to Medicaid programs in other states. We are ready and able to do the same for Florida. It is in the public interest for this to happen, and really the better question is why it hasn't happened already. … Citing the Tennessee model, Lynch believes that a $1 billion Medicaid cost reduction is conservative for Florida. If Tennessee's experience were matched, Florida's savings would top $3 billion annually" (Ward, 11/24).

Southern Political Report / The (SC) State House Report: "Next year looks to be interesting for the state's Department of Health and Human Services. … Not only is DHHS, which administers Medicaid, facing a projected $228 million shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 1 but the agency announced this week the likelihood it will run out of reimbursement money for Medicaid providers – doctors, hospitals, etc. – as soon as March 4, unless it gets additional mid-year solutions" (Davis, 11/23).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.