If No Medicaid Expansion, Low-Income State Residents Won't Face Mandate

A rule published Wednesday exempts low-income people from the health law's requirement to buy insurance if they live in states that decide against expanding Medicaid. News outlets also report on the latest related developments from Ohio, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oklahoma and California.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: No Mandate For Those Left Out Of Medicaid Expansion
Low-income Americans who live in states that have decided not to expand Medicaid eligibility will not face penalties if they fail to buy insurance next year. That's according to a final rule on exemptions to the health law's individual mandate – the law's controversial requirement that most Americans have health coverage or pay a penalty in 2014. That rule was published Wednesday (Tran, 6/27).

Reuters: Republican Battles Over Medicaid Turn To God And Mortality
Ohio's Republican Governor, John Kasich, is no fan of President Barack Obama's health reform law. But he has become an unlikely proponent of one element of Obamacare - expansion of Medicaid healthcare coverage for the poor - and he has a warning for his fellow party members about the moral consequences of blocking it (Morgan, 6/26).

The Associated Press: Lawmakers OK $10.7 Billion Budget, Medicaid Study
The New Hampshire Legislature passed a $10.7 billion bipartisan budget Wednesday that eases the waiting time for services to the disabled and mentally ill, but puts off a decision on whether to expand Medicaid to 58,000 poor adults. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the budget, followed by the House passing each bill in the two-bill package by over 300 votes (Love, 6/28).

MPR News: Minnesota Likely To Avoid States' Budget Shock From ACA's 'Welcome Mat' Effect
State spending on Medicaid programs could rise substantially, even for states that have opted out of the federal health care law's Medicaid expansion, according to a University of Minnesota study. U of M researchers say several factors will encourage people who are eligible for Medicaid, but haven't enrolled before, to sign up. … The analysis is based on the experience of Massachusetts, which in 2006 enacted a requirement to obtain health insurance similar to the "individual mandate" in the federal law, which requires all U.S. citizens (with a few exemptions) to have coverage starting January 1, 2014 (Stawicki, 6/27).

Tulsa World: State Advised To Use 'Enhanced Federal Funding' To Ease Uninsured Numbers
Oklahoma should use "enhanced federal funding," including expanded Medicaid, to ease the number of uninsured people in the state, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority was told Thursday. The Medicaid funding would not be used to create a new government insurance program but would underwrite the purchase of private insurance for Oklahomans, similar to a program recently approved for Arkansas, the authority was told (Greene, 6/27).

The Associated Press: Consultants Unveil Plan For Oklahoma Uninsured
Utah-based Leavitt Partners presented its much-anticipated report to the governing board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state agency that oversees the federal Medicaid program. The firm was hired to help Oklahoma answer the question of how to expand health insurance coverage after Gov. Mary Fallin rejected an opportunity to expand the state's Medicaid program under the federal health care law, the Affordable Care Act (Murphy, 6/27).

Los Angeles Times: New Budget Expands Health Care In California
In addition to more funding for schools, public universities and social services, the budget package that Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday includes legislation expanding the state's health care program for the poor, part of California's effort to implement President Obama's national overhaul. The new spending plan is set to take effect Monday. The public health care program, known as Medi-Cal, is expected to grow by 1 million enrollees and could soon cover about one in four Californians. Millions more people will be able to buy insurance through a state-run market (Megerian, 6/27).

Also, a progress report from California regarding the development of the state's health exchange -

Politico: California’s Health Insurance Exchange At Forefront
State leaders planning to run their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges are under enough pressure to get everything ready in time for open enrollment this fall. Peter Lee, who runs California’s exchange, knows the spotlight is even greater on his state because the White House put it there (Millman, 6/28).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.