Medicaid Expansion, Health Exchanges Tempt Some GOP Governors

Politico reports that certain Republican governors are going forward with the implementation of these health law provisions without facing a backlash within their states.

Politico: Some GOP Governors Accepting Parts Of ACA
A handful of Republican governors are bucking their party and going ahead with key pieces of President Barack Obama's health care law — and so far, they're not being cast out by the GOP as Obamacare traitors. Nationally, the heated politics surrounding the health law have hardly died down almost three years since its passage. But some Republican governors — including prominent ones like Ohio's John Kasich — are expanding Medicaid or building an insurance exchange without facing similar opposition at home. These state moves represent a turning point in the fight over Obamacare (Haberkorn and Millman, 2/5).

On health exchanges --

Salt Lake City Tribune: Utah's online insurance marketplace, Avenue H, is still the focus of eleventh-hour negotiations with the Obama administration. Unable to win legislative support for a state-run exchange that meets all federal requirements, Gov. Gary Herbert on Tuesday pitched a new scenario to U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius. Utah is now proposing to keep and run Avenue H as a "shop" exchange for small businesses, relinquishing to federal officials the task of building a separate marketplace for individuals (Stewart, 2/5).

Meanwhile, coverage from the Associated Press and other news outlets details the positions being taken by various state leaders across the country on the expansion of Medicaid, and how public opinion is taking shape.

The Associated Press: Democrats, Others Call For Wis. Medicaid Expansion
Democratic lawmakers and others who are calling on Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin pointed to a new analysis Tuesday that said the state could save $65 million by accepting the federal money. The savings would come by replacing state money to cover childless adults with money from the federal government made available under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law (Bauer, 2/5).

The Associated Press: Corbett Won't Pursue Medicaid Expansion, For Now
Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday that he will not pursue an expansion of Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, at least for now, echoing the longstanding complaints of other Republican governors about the cost, inflexibility and inefficiency of Medicaid. Corbett has not made a specific request from the federal Department of Health and Human Services for the kind of flexibility he wants, and his administration characterized a Tuesday letter to the agency's secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, as a starting point (Levy, 2/5).

The Associated Press: Fla. Lawmakers Give Mild Criticism Of Scott Budget
Florida Gov. Rick Scott's $74.2 billion proposed budget isn't winning a lot of praise so far from state legislators. … Democratic legislators also questioned why Scott has refused so far to take a stance on whether the state should accept federal aid to expand Medicaid. ... Scott initially was opposed to expansion of the safety-net program but then softened his stance after President Barack Obama was re-elected (Fineout, 2/5).

Health News Florida: Could FL Build Exchange From These 2 Groups?
Two quite different programs that help Floridians find health insurance may end up competing to become the Florida face of the federal health-insurance exchange of the future. One or both would almost certainly not survive -- that is, unless they join forces (Gentry, 2/5).

The Associated Press: Hundreds Urge Okla. Governor To Expand Medicaid
Hundreds of people rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday and urged Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to reconsider her rejection of a Medicaid expansion that would provide health insurance to an estimated 200,000 working poor in the state. After about 200 people gathered on the north steps of the Capitol, some holding signs that read "Health Care is a Human Right" and "Expand Medicaid Now," organizers delivered more than 5,000 signatures from an online petition urging the Republican governor to reconsider her decision (Murphy, 2/5).

The Associated Press: NH Panel Hears From Public On Medicaid Expansion
A bill to ban New Hampshire from expanding its Medicaid program as part of the federal health overhaul law attracted scant support at a public hearing Tuesday. Instead, opponents dominated the debate, arguing that expansion would help struggling families, hospitals and the state's economy (Ramer, 2/5).

North Carolina Health News: Senators Debate Obamacare Bill, Move It Forward
State senators voted on a proposal to reject aspects of the Affordable Care Act Monday night and calendared the bill for final consideration for Tuesday, despite a call from Governor McCrory to slow down on the bill. With the chamber gallery populated with doctors wearing white coats and scrubs, senators voted 31-17 to move the bill forward after about an hour of debate. A final vote on the bill will be held Tuesday, according to Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R-Winston-Salem) (Hoban, 2/5).

Arizona Republic: Websites Tout Brewer's Plan To Expand Medicaid
Gov. Jan Brewer's administration has launched two websites to garner public support for her proposal to expand Medicaid and insure more low-income Arizonans. The websites are part of a sweeping effort by Brewer, health-care providers and the business community to win support from Republican lawmakers, in this case by going straight to their constituents. A page on the governor's official site calls Medicaid expansion "the conservative choice for Arizona." It generally restates the case Brewer made last month when she announced her plan to seek expansion of the state-federal program for the low-income and disabled as part of U.S. health-care reform (Reinhart, 2/5). 

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