Indiana Seeks OK For Medicaid Expansion Alternative; Calif. Wrestles With Medi-Cal Backlog

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday requested a waiver from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage using a state plan that he says would promote personal responsibility. Developments in California, Oregon, Georgia and Washington state are also tracked.

Associated Press:  Pence Submits Request For Medicaid Alternative
Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday asked that the federal government expand health care coverage for Indiana’s low-income residents using a state-run alternative to traditional Medicaid. Pence’s proposal, dubbed the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, would still rely on billions in federal aid to cover residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, like states that approved the Medicaid expansion included in the federal health care overhaul. But Pence and his supporters contend it supports personal responsibility in a way Medicaid doesn’t because it would rely on health savings accounts and patient input (LoBianco, 7/1).

Kaiser Health News: Mountainous Backlog Stalls Medi-Cal Expansion In California
A massive backlog of Medi-Cal applications is well into its third  month, and California officials have provided little information about how and when the largest such bottleneck in the nation might be cleared. The California Department of Health Care Services in Sacramento first reported 800,000 pending applications in April. By May, that number had grown by 100,000 and has not budged much since (Shen, 7/2).

Associated Press:  Oregon Hires Firm To Connect To Federal Health Site
Oregon has hired a tech firm to help transfer the botched Cover Oregon health insurance exchange to the federal exchange website and finish building the state’s Medicaid system. The Oregon Health Authority will pay Deloitte Consulting LLC up to $18.4 million to be the “system integrator” that oversees the transition. It’s the same company that was hired to do an analysis and build a road map for the transition. In April, Deloitte recommended the state abandon its troubled exchange because it would be cheaper to switch to the federal site than to fix it. Cover Oregon officials heeded its call and decided to switch to the federal portal (7/1).

Georgia Health News: State Announces New Choices For 2015 Benefits Plan
Addressing months of controversy and protests, state officials Tuesday announced that state employees and school personnel will get a wider array of insurers and choices in their 2015 health plan. Some employees and teachers have been vocal in their criticism of their current plan options since Jan. 1, when the plan took effect. The changes made for 2014, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints about a lack of choice of insurance providers and higher health care costs (Miller, 7/1).

Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal: Naturopaths Not Signing Up To Be Medicaid Providers
The expansion of Medicaid in Washington state includes a change allowing licensed naturopathic physicians to function as primary-care providers for patients in the state’s Apple Health (Medicaid) program. In Kitsap County, however, naturopaths are passing on the opportunity to enroll as Medicaid providers. Washington is one of only three states that allow Medicaid patients to choose naturopaths for their care. The inclusion of naturopaths is regarded as one way to help meet the need for more primary-care physicians since many more people now have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and its expansion of Medicaid, the federal program that covers mainly lower-income people (Kelly, 7/1). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major 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.