Medicaid Expansion Triggers Flurry Of State Legislature Debates, Decisions

The Washington Post reports that Arkansas has discovered "wiggle room" regarding the expansion. Meanwhile, debates in state legislatures continue over what should happen in Arizona, Utah, California and Texas. And, in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett plans a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The Washington Post: Arkansas Plan Shows That Health Care Law's Medicaid Expansion Leaves Flexibility For States
The Obama administration has taken a hard line with governors about an option to expand Medicaid under the new health law, telling them to take it or leave it — but leave it and lose access to millions of federal dollars. It turns out there is some wiggle room after all (Somashkhar, 3/9).

The New York Times: GOP In Arizona Is Pushed To Expand Medicaid
In the battle to get the Medicaid expansion being championed by Gov. Jan Brewer approved by the state's legislators, her closest advisers are hanging their hopes on the number eight. That is how many of the 17 Republicans in the State Senate they believe they can get on their side (Santos, 3/10).

The Associated Press: Utah Lawmakers Try To Prohibit Medicaid Expansion
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is still waiting to decide whether to accept the federal government's offer to expand Medicaid, but a group of Utah lawmakers wants to let him know where they stand by passing a law prohibiting the expansion. Republican lawmakers say the expansion offers a "false promise" of federal support (3/11).

California Healthline: Floor Votes In Favor Of Expansion Bills
The state Assembly and Senate yesterday passed companion bills to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to more than one million Californians making up to 138 percent of federal poverty level. The bills also simplify the Medi-Cal enrollment process. "This bill takes an important step to make sure California remains a leader in health care reform," said Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), author of ABX1-1. "And this also helps bring billions of dollars in federal funds into California." The Senate passed its version of the legislation, SBX1-1, authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina). The expansion will be fully funded with federal money for the first three years, declining to 90 percent in 2020 (Gorn, 3/8).

Los Angeles Times: Democrats, Brown At Odds Over Health Care Act
As Democratic lawmakers speed to implement President Obama's health care overhaul in California, they are finding themselves at odds with the leader of their own party: Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor and legislators disagree over how the state should expand Medicaid to more than 1 million low-income Californians, a critical component of the federal Affordable Care Act (Mishak, 3/9).

The Texas Tribune: Bill Grants HHSC Power To Address Medicaid Reform
State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, filed legislation Friday that would grant the Health and Human Services Commission authority to craft "a Texas solution" to Medicaid reform and negotiate with the Obama administration to draw down billions in federal financing to expand Medicaid services. As debate in the House Appropriations Committee on Medicaid expansion revealed Friday morning, the House remains divided on how Medicaid should be reformed and whether the program should be expanded. Currently, House Bill 3791 is a shell bill that will be altered as state legislators continue to negotiate how Medicaid should be reformed (Aaronson, 3/9).

The Associated Press: Corbett's Meeting With Sebelius About Medicaid Looms Large
Gov. Tom Corbett's top Department of Public Welfare official smiled and once again offered a variation of a statement that she had made countless times already in the past 24 hours to lawmakers pressing her for answers. "At this time we're moving down the path to look at all ways we can allow Pennsylvanians to have access to affordable, quality health care," Bev Mackereth [said]....That path will take Corbett to Washington to meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about whether Pennsylvania should undertake a massive expansion of Medicaid's health care coverage, largely to low-income adults, under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (3/10).

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