How The Election Factors Into States' Plans For The Health Law's Medicaid Expansion And Other Changes

News outlets report that the outcome of some states' gubernatorial races will likely change the outlook for the health overhaul's sweeping Medicaid expansion. In general, however, the future remains unsettled.

Politico: New Governors Might Change Medicaid Outlook
New faces in a pair of state capitols could alter the future of Medicaid expansion. In New Hampshire, expansion now looks virtually assured. Democrat Maggie Hassan, a vocal proponent of the Affordable Care Act's optional Medicaid expansion, will take the keys from Gov. John Lynch, a more moderate Democrat. And voters sent Hassan reinforcements, giving her more room than Lynch had to advance the health law. Democrats reclaimed control of the state House and took six seats from Republicans in the state Senate, leaving the GOP with a slim 13-11 majority. Lynch wouldn’t commit to Medicaid expansion and faced a hostile Legislature. In contrast, Hassan pledged her support for expansion during her campaign (Cheney and Smith, 11/12).

San Francisco Chronicle: States Now Must Make Call On Obamacare
President Obama's re-election solidified the future of national health care, and now it's up to the states to carry it out. … Gov. Jerry Brown plans to call a special session of the Legislature in December to focus on how to expand Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, and work out details of the benefits to be offered (Colliver, 11/22).

The Oregonian: Health Watch: Despite Election Results, Health Care's Future Remains Unsettled, Including In Oregon
Democrats' retention of the White House and U.S. Senate last week meant the federal health reforms contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land. But that doesn't mean things are settled in the world of health care, including in Oregon. Next year Oregon lawmakers will decide whether to expand coverage under the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan to about 200,000 people using federal subsidies that will ratchet back over time. Moreover, discussions of significant changes to Medicare programs that provide care to the elderly and disabled remain on the table as Congress takes up negotiations to avoid major cuts and tax increases scheduled for January, known as "the fiscal cliff"…The state remains on course to set up its health insurance exchange, required under federal health reform to provide an online marketplace for consumers and small businesses. But significant decisions remain (Budnick, 11/12).

Kansas Health Institute News: Group Urges Brownback To Expand Medicaid Eligibility
About 100 people rallied outside the Kansas Statehouse today, urging state officials to expand Medicaid eligiblity as provided for in the federal health reform law. … Earlier this week, the governor announced that he would block the state's participation in a state-federal insurance exchange, one of the hallmarks of the new law. But unlike some Republican governors, he hasn't ruled out the possibility he would support some sort of Medicaid expansion (Ranney, 11/9).

In addition, some health systems and providers offer their take on the Medicaid expansion --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Health System Touted By Obama Doesn't Back Medicaid Expansion 
Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake City-based hospital system praised by President Barack Obama as being a model for low-cost, high quality care, says it is not convinced Utah should expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul (Galewitz, 11/9). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Associated Press: SD Health Care Providers Urge Medicaid Expansion
Now that President Barack Obama's re-election has cleared the way for the full implementation of his health care law, doctors and hospitals in South Dakota are urging the state to expand its Medicaid program so thousands of additional low-income residents can receive coverage. But Gov. Dennis Daugaard says any expansion of coverage is unlikely for at least several years while the potential costs are examined. The South Dakota Association of Health Care Organizations said about 48,000 uninsured residents will be left behind if South Dakota doesn't ease its eligibility requirements for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor (Brokaw, 11/13).

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