Iowa Governor, Feds Shake Hands On Medicaid Expansion

The agreement follows the administration's announcement Tuesday that it would permit the state to charge modest premiums to enrollees making more than the federal poverty level. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Republican legislators opposed to Medicaid expansion take their case to court.

The Washington Post: Iowa's GOP Governor Expands Medicaid Program Thursday
The White House welcomed the news Thursday night that Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad agreed to expand his state’s Medicaid program under the administration's health-care law. Under a compromise with the Department of Health and Human Services, the state will be allowed to charge premiums to people who earn between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty line, to pay a modest premium for health coverage (Eilperin, 12/12). 

Des Moines Register: Branstad, Feds Strike Deal On Health Program For Poor
Gov. Terry Branstad and federal officials reached an agreement Thursday that will allow tens of thousands of poor Iowans to gain public health insurance. ... Federal officials announced Tuesday that they had approved the proposal, except for one part. They said they could not allow Iowa to charge monthly premiums to people who make less than the poverty level if they failed to comply with healthy activities, such as undergoing annual health assessments. Under the compromise reached Thursday, the state will be allowed to charge a few dollars per month in premiums for such people starting in 2015, but it won't kick them off the insurance if they fail to pay (Leys, 12/12).

The Associated Press: Arizona Governor's Medicaid Plan Heads To Court
Six months after she pushed an expansion of the state's Medicaid health insurance plan through Arizona's Legislature, Gov. Jan Brewer's effort to extend coverage to 300,000 additional residents faces a crucial test Friday. Lawyers for the conservative Republican governor are trying to convince a judge that a court challenge by fellow Republicans in the Legislature should be blocked (Christie, 12/13).

The Arizona Republic: Medicaid Battle Heads To Court
The case revolves around whether the Legislature had the authority to approve the funding plan that would be used to pay the state’s share of expanded Medicaid coverage. Lawmakers approved a "provider tax" to be levied against hospitals, over objections from most Republican lawmakers that the vote violated the state Constitution (Pitzl, 12/12).

The Associated Press: Mississippi Losing Billions By Not Extending Medicaid, Report Concludes
Mississippi is losing billions of dollars in potential economic activity because state leaders, so far, have chosen not to extend Medicaid to hundreds of thousands more people, a nonprofit group said [in] a report Thursday. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, which supports wider availability of medical coverage, said Medicaid expansion in the state would generate more than $14 billion in new economic activity, create about 20,000 new jobs and provide a net increase of $848 million in state and local tax collections (Pettus, 12/12).

Another state is looking at the private insurance alternative adopted by Arkansas and Iowa -

The Salt Lake Tribune: Utah May Substitute Full Medicaid Expansion With Private Insurance
Utah is edging closer to an Arkansas-style alternative to expanding Medicaid. A Legislative Health Reform Task Force on Thursday revisited, tweaked and approved three expansion scenarios for recommendation to the full Legislature. Still on the table: Doing nothing and keeping Medicaid eligibility rules as they are now. But in a surprise twist, lawmakers ditched previously favored partial expansion strategies in favor of giving low-income Utahns public dollars to buy private insurance (Stewart, 12/12).

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