Statehouses Become Next Flashpoint For Medicaid Expansion Debates

Even as Republican governors like Rick Scott in Florida have chosen to back the health law's Medicaid expansion, they are facing push back from GOP-controlled legislatures.

Politico: For Republican Governors, Medicaid Expansion Is Hard Sell
Governors like Rick Scott of Florida and John Kasich of Ohio bucked their conservative base to accept billions in federal funds to provide basic health coverage to millions of uninsured constituents. But they need the support of their Republican-led legislatures to make it a reality. It's a tall task that's dividing statehouses around the country (Cheney and Millman, 3/7).

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Expansion Divides Florida GOP
As the Florida legislature convened this week, House Speaker Will Weatherford helped rally fellow Republicans opposed to expanding the state's Medicaid coverage to more than a million low-income residents, but he also acknowledged that his own family benefitted from a program for low-income families without health insurance (Hatter, 3/7).

The Associated Press: Fla. Session Opens With Medicaid Expansion In Doubt
A bid to cover roughly 1 million Floridians by expanding the state Medicaid program is in doubt after one of the state's top legislative leaders called it a social experiment "destined for failure." House Speaker Will Weatherford used the opening day of the annual legislative session to denounce the idea of expanding the safety-net health insurance program. Within hours, Senate President Don Gaetz responded by suggesting that the Senate was unlikely to move forward in the face of such strong opposition (3/6).

Los Angeles Times: Protestors March To Urge Gov. Rick Perry To Expand Medicaid
Several hundred protesters marched in Austin on Tuesday to protest Texas Gov. Rick Perry's hard stance against expanding Medicaid coverage in the state. Perry has dismissed calls to follow two tenets of the federal Affordable Care Act: expand Medicaid, the government program providing health insurance for sick or low-income people, and set up a health insurance exchange where people can shop for coverage (Li, 3/6).

Sacramento Bee: Capitol Alert: State, Counties Joust Over Medi-Cal Expansion In California
The perennially contentious relationship between the state and county governments over money has a new flash point -- the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to more than a million low-income Californians under the new Affordable Care Act. The conflict -- aired Wednesday in an Assembly budget subcommittee hearing -- has two prongs: Whether the state or counties will manage the expansion; Whether the state should "claw back" some of the money it now pays to counties to pay for indigent medical care -- on the theory that many of the half-million poor beneficiaries will become Medi-Cal patients next year, raising state costs (3/6).

California Healthline: Appropriations Approves Medi-Cal Expansion
The state Senate Committee on Appropriations endorsed a bill expanding Medi-Cal eligibility to 1.4 million Californians and to simplify the enrollment process for all Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The special session approval Monday means SBX1-1 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) is headed to the Senate floor as soon as the end of this week. The Assembly version of the legislation -- ABX1-1 by John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) -- won committee approval last week is pending a floor vote now (Gorn, 3/6).

Meanwhile, also in the news -

MPR News: Minn. GOP Vows To Slow Health Exchange Bill
Republicans say they will offer about 100 amendments to an insurance exchange bill when the Minnesota Senate debates it Thursday. The state needs legislation in place by the end of this month. Republicans have complained the DFL-controlled Legislature is moving too fast on the health plan marketplace. But the GOP blocked exchange legislation when Republicans controlled the Legislature over the past two years. "We didn't think that government control of health care was a good idea and we hoped there would be another path out," said Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake. "But frankly, this bill still isn't ready because there are so many unanswered questions" (Stawicki, 3/6).

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