Virginia Medicaid Expansion: The House Votes No, But The Senate Votes Yes

The votes will likely set up a conference committee showdown related to the state's two-year budget plan. Meanwhile, news outlets also report on developments from Arkansas, Mississippi and California.   

The Washington Post: House And Senate In Virginia At Loggerheads Over Medicaid Austerity
Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reject Medicaid expansion, signaling in the strongest terms yet that the chamber does not intend to budge on the marquee issue of this year’s legislative session (Laris and Vozzella, 2/20).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: House, Senate Set Up Medicaid Showdown
The House of Delegates on Thursday soundly rejected, and the Virginia Senate approved, a private option to Medicaid expansion, one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s key goals. Each chamber passed respective versions of the two-year budget that begins July 1, setting up a showdown. The competing plans will go into conference, where senior lawmakers from each side will seek a compromise before the session is scheduled to adjourn March 8. The only surprise in the House debate over Medicaid expansion was that it occurred at all (Martz, Meola and Nolan, 2/21).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Virginia House, Senate Split On Medicaid Plan
The Virginia House and Senate cast opposing votes Thursday on whether to accept federal Medicaid funds in order to provide health insurance to as much as 400,000 low-income residents. The GOP-controlled House voted 67-32 against expanding Medicaid eligibility. The Democratically controlled Senate, with the support of a few Republicans, voted 23-17 for the expanded coverage (2/20).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Arkansas Senate Passes, House Rejects Health Plan
A compromise plan for Medicaid expansion in Arkansas remained stalled in the state House Thursday, despite the state Senate endorsing legislation to continue the nationally watched program that is providing subsidized health coverage to more than 87,000 people. The House on Thursday voted 72-25 to reauthorize funding for the “private option,” three votes shy of the 75 needed to continue the program using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Arkansas was the first state to win approval for such a plan as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law (2/20).

The Associated Press: Mississippi House Rejects Proposal To Expand Medicaid
The Mississippi House voted Thursday against expanding Medicaid to more than 230,000 uninsured working poor residents. Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, pushed for expansion as the House considered House Bill 1481, an early version of the Medicaid budget for the year that begins July 1 (Pettus, 2/20).

Los Angeles Times: Loophole In Healthcare Law May Put Medi-Cal Patients’ Assets At Risk
Luis Rios, who lost his job at a filling station in December at the age of 56, is newly eligible for Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor. Following the advice of state-trained medical insurance enrollment workers, he filled out the paperwork required to get coverage — but has a nagging fear that he may have put his family's financial assets at risk. That's because, in certain cases, Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid, will be able to collect repayment for healthcare services from the estate after a recipient dies, including placing government liens on property (Brown, 2/20).

In other Medicaid expansion news -

Kaiser Health News: Health Centers See Threat From 'Private Option' Medicaid
Medicaid reimburses health centers better than private doctors because federal law requires the centers be paid in relation to the actual cost of care they provide. The higher rates are supposed to reflect the sicker and poorer patients they see and the fact they can’t limit the number of uninsured or Medicaid patients they treat. As more states look to follow Arkansas’ lead --- Utah and New Hampshire are among those considering similar expansion plans --- health centers are bracing for the worst (Galewitz, 2/20).

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