State Officials, Policy Experts Mull Health Law Implementation Issues

The Medicaid expansion continues to trigger significant debate and discussion among state officials.

The Washington Post: Virginia Senate Could Be Headed For Budget Stalemate
Democrats in the evenly divided Senate signaled Sunday that they will try to force another budget stalemate unless the General Assembly agrees to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Vozzella, 2/3).

Stateline: Diving Deeper: Nebraska Governor's Thinking On Tax Cuts, Medicaid
Few governors are in as enviable a position as Nebraska's Dave Heineman. The Republican has one of the highest approval rates of any governor in the country, and his state has one of the lowest unemployment rates. ... As Stateline recently reported, however, Heineman's test this year is whether he's popular with the 49 Nebraskans who matter most: the members of the state's one-chamber legislature. The governor is trying to persuade lawmakers to make Nebraska the first state since Alaska more than 30 years ago to end its income tax. Plus, he's hoping to convince them not to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. Stateline staff writer Josh Goodman asked Heineman about these two issues. Below is an edited transcript that explores in more detail his thinking on the topics (Goodman, 2/4).

McClatchy: Health Care Experts See Bumpy Road Ahead: 'Shift Happens'
The healthcare industry in South Florida, like the rest of the country, faces huge challenges in the year ahead as major federal reforms kick in, experts told about 700 people at a University of Miami conference on Friday. "We are at a critical time in health policy," said Mark McClellan, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "There are going to be some bumps along the way,” especially starting in 11 months, when the biggest changes in the Affordable Care Act kick in. "Bumps may be understating what we may go through," said Patrick Geraghty, chief executive of Florida Blue, the state's largest health insurer (Dorschner, 2/1).

The Associated Press: NH Health Care Partnerships Endorsed
New Hampshire's insurance and health departments are recommending that the state partner with the federal government to operate the new insurance markets required under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law. Department officials will explain the details Monday to a legislative committee that must approve any major changes the agency makes in implementing that law, insurance department attorney Jennifer Patterson told The Associated Press (2/3).

CQ HealthBeat: States Eligible For Medicaid Funding Increase For Preventive Care
States can currently get a higher matching rate for covering preventive care and adult vaccines, Medicaid officials said in a letter to state officials on Friday. As of Jan. 1, the health care law allows states to get a federal matching rate increase of one percentage point if they offer patients free preventive care. It doesn’t matter whether the services are provided by a managed care plan or through a fee-for-service Medicaid system (Adams, 2/1).

The Texas Tribune: Medicaid Expansion In Spotlight As Session Heats Up
Will Texas expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? That's the $100 billion question at the Capitol this session. The state’s Republican leadership says no, but supporters of federal health care reform may be gaining traction (Philpott, 2/4).

North Carolina Health News: Health Care Leaders React To Legislators' Stance On Obamacare
Robeson County has 134,000 residents and is one of North Carolina’s poorest counties, with an unemployment rate greater than 12 percent and some of the worst health outcomes in the country. "Our emergency room in Lumberton sees about 77,000 people at the back door of that hospital every year," said Sen. Michael Walters (D-Fairmont), addressing the state Senate insurance committee Thursday morning. Walters' voice was one of the chorus of those expressing concern in the past day over the decision by House and Senate Republicans to sponsor bills that would have North Carolina opt out of the Medicaid expansion allowed for under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act (Hoban, 2/1).

In other health law news --

Politico Pro: ACA Premium Sticker Shock Could Fuel Foes
The federal health care law could nearly triple premiums for some young and healthy men, according to a forthcoming survey of insurers that singles out a group that might become a major public opinion battleground in the Obamacare wars. The survey, fielded by the conservative American Action Forum and made available to Politico, found that if the law’s insurance rules were in force, the premium for a relatively bare-bones policy for a 27-year-old male nonsmoker on the individual market would be nearly 190 percent higher (Norman, 2/4).

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