Health Reform WK-EDGE States’ scales tip in favor of expansion as compromise, elections weigh in
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

States’ scales tip in favor of expansion as compromise, elections weigh in

By Jenny Burke, J.D., M.S.

Several states may be seeing the way towards Medicaid expansion, with spring elections playing no small part in changing the majority votes. State legislators are beginning to compromise, with smaller expansion plans, but expansion nonetheless.

Arkansas. The state Health Reform Legislative Task Force met March 7, 2016, to vote on proposals to expand Medicaid. The state lawmakers voted to endorse Governor Asa Hutchinson's (R) “Arkansas Works” plan to keep Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion with new financial limits, but the Task Force remains split over the governor’s plan to have private companies manage some of the state's services for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. The state legislature will take up the plan at an upcoming special session. The Task Force was deadlocked, however, over the Governor’s proposal to hire managed care firms to administer parts of the state’s Medicaid program.

Kentucky. After special elections on March 8, Kentucky democrats secured 53 of the 100 seats in the House, according to the Associated Press. The majority will last at least until November, when all 100 seats will be up for re-election. The seats play a crucial role in what happens with state Medicaid expansion. Current Governor Matt Bevin (R) plans to dismantle Kynect, Kentucky's health insurance exchange, and has vowed to repeal the state's expanded Medicaid program. Although Bevin has the power to undo both via executive order, the new democratic majority could slow down the process.

Kansas. Although many Kansas residents support a “budget neutral” Medicaid expansion plan, many lawmakers question the truth behind the financial projections and are hesitant to move forward. According to a recent poll, 62 percent are in favor of expanding Medicaid, or KanCare, to include 150,000 Kansans who are at 130 percent of federal poverty level. What is more is that 76 percent of Kansans polled said they would support expanding Medicaid under a budget-neutral plan.

House Bill 2633 and Senate Bill 371 include proposed legislation for Medicaid expansion and have been promoted by the Kansas Hospital Association and others as being budget neutral, with the potential to generate revenue for the state. Courier Journal Online, however, reports that legislators are concerned about costs. According to the local sources, “Rep. Daniel Hawkins, a Republican from Wichita who chairs the House Committee on Health and Human Services, said a fiscal note on the bill concerning the KanCare bridge program found it wasn’t budget neutral, which negates the poll results on that question.”

Utah. In a big compromise, the Utah senate approved HB437, which expands Medicaid coverage to 16,000 of the poorest Utahns. The bill passed with a 19 to eight vote. Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) is expected to sign the bill, which will implement a health coverage improvement program through a Medicaid waiver. The revision authorizes the Utah Department of Health to apply for waivers from federal law that would be necessary to implement changes to the state Medicaid program. It would also require the Department of Health to study methods to increase coverage to uninsured low income adults with children and to maximize the use of employer sponsored coverage.

IndustryNews: StateNews AccessNews MedicaidNews MedicaidExpansionNews NewsFeed

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