Florida House Rejects Federal Medicaid Expansion Funds

The Florida House of Representatives passed its own limited health care bill that relies on state money to expand coverage to the state's neediest residents. Also in the news, reports from Ohio, Montana, Texas, Nebraska and Arizona on the status of state decision-making regarding the expansion.

The Associated Press: Florida House Passes Limited Health Care Bill
The Republican-controlled Florida House on Friday passed its plan to provide health coverage to about 115,000 of the state's neediest residents but bypassed tens of billions of federal dollars available under the Affordable Care Act. The bill's passage now sets up a standoff between the House and Senate in the final week of the legislative session. If neither side blinks, a health insurance overhaul could well be over till next year, quashing one of Gov. Rick Scott's priorities (4/26).

Health News Florida: It's Official: House Turns Down $$
By a 71 to 45 vote, the Florida House of Representatives on Friday passed its own health plan, which relies on state money and bypasses more than $50 billion in federal funds. The vote, as expected, fell almost entirely along party lines (Gentry, 4/26).

Health News Florida: Employers Face Penalty If FL Rejects $
Florida businesses have more at stake in the Legislature’s decision on Medicaid expansion than they might realize, tax-policy experts say. Florida’s larger employers could face tax penalties of $146 million to $219 million a year if the state says no to federal funds and fails to cover low-income uninsured people via Medicaid, as called for in the Affordable Care Act, says tax-policy expert Brian Haile of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service (Gentry and Lamendola, 4/26).

The Associated Press: More Than Just Numbers In Ohio's Medicaid Debate
The debate over whether Ohio should make health care coverage available to more low-income residents has been framed largely by numbers and dollar signs. Behind those figures, though, are thousands of people who have little or no access to medical care and treatment programs. Many are making just enough to stay above the poverty line (4/28).

The Associated Press: Health Care Fight To Continue After Session Ends
The Montana legislative session may be over, but Medicaid expansion advocates say the fight to get health insurance to the working poor will continue. Advocates and Gov. Steve Bullock are considering their options after the Legislature killed the governor's bill to expand Medicaid to up to 70,000 Montanans who cannot afford to purchase health insurance (4/26).

Arizona Republic: Feds Say No To Funding A Leaner Arizona Medicaid
Federal health officials dealt a blow to opponents of Medicaid expansion Thursday, saying they’re unlikely to fund a slimmed-down version of the state’s indigent-health-care program as the political battle over the issue intensified. Gov. Jan Brewer declared the federal announcement a game-changer in the debate, which is holding up a new state budget. She told GOP legislative leaders to stop delaying a vote on Medicaid expansion and move swiftly to present her expansion plan to lawmakers (Reinhart, 4/26).

Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska Lawmakers Take Note Of Arkansas Medicaid Plan
Could the "private option" that brought together Republicans and Democrats in Arkansas offer an alternative to expanding Medicaid in Nebraska? Some Nebraska lawmakers say the idea is worth checking out. "I'm very much in support of looking into it," said State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, a leading opponent of adding more low-income adults to Nebraska's Medicaid program (Stoddard, 4/28).

San Antonio Express: Personal Stories Help Shape Medicaid Debate, Decisions
Like everyone, lawmakers are shaped by their experiences as they mull key decisions, such as what to do about the million-plus Texans who could be insured if Texas expanded Medicaid or found some alternative to draw down the federal dollars for private coverage. Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, a San Antonio Democrat on Appropriations, said fighting cancer into remission has helped shape her views, and others' stories make a difference, too. She wants to pass a measure that will give people the coverage they need. ... [Lois]Kolkhorst said she's concerned that Medicaid coverage won't be meaningful if the program isn't made sustainable. She suggests that the insurance subsidies, starting at 100 percent of poverty absent Medicaid expansion, could help people like Veloz strive to reach the income level at which they could get coverage (Fikac, 4/28).

Dallas Morning News: Texas Medicaid Debate Pits Rival Visions Of Health Care Law
A battle at the Capitol over whether Texas should expand Medicaid is coming down to two competing philosophies. One, the likely winner, is pushed by Brenham Republican Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee. She says the state should wait to gauge the effect of the other major provision that the Affordable Care Act uses to expand health coverage, a new insurance exchange. ... The other view, represented by Houston Democratic Rep. Garnet Coleman, says that only Medicaid expansion can provide enough coverage, and that it’s too good a deal to pass up (Garrett, 4/28).

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