Capsules: Iowa To Expand Medicaid After Feds OK Money For Private Plans; People With Medicare Have Good Access To Doctors, Study Finds; West Virginia, Virgin Islands, Work Together On Medicaid

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Julie Appleby reports on Iowa's plan to expand Medicaid: "The Obama administration Tuesday granted Iowa much of what it requested to move forward with a Medicaid expansion through the use of private insurance plans but refused to allow the state to charge premiums for those who earn less than the federal poverty level. If the state accepts the terms of the agreement, it would become the second to be allowed to use federal dollars to finance the purchase of private health insurance for the newly Medicaid eligible. Arkansas was earlier granted that permission by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services" (Appleby, 12/10). 

Also on the blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on issues related to Medicare beneficiaries and their access to care: "As key congressional committees consider legislation to repeal Medicare’s physician payment formula, a new study shows that the program’s beneficiaries have generally good access to doctors. The report, prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that 96 percent of beneficiaries report having access to a doctor’s office or clinic, and about 90 percent of beneficiaries say they can schedule timely appointments for routine and specialty care" (Carey, 12/10).

In addition, Phil Galewtiz writes about the Virgin Islands and West Virginia on Medicaid: "West Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t have much in common. It was 82 degrees and sunny today in St. Thomas, while Charleston, W.Va., saw snow and a high of 32. But when it comes to Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, the Mountain State and Caribbean territory are now joined at the hip" (Galewitz, 12/11).  Check out what else is new on the blog.

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