September 27, 2013

Public Health and Private Healthcare Systems

health care doctors

Utah Study Group Lays Out Medicaid Expansion Options.

The AP  (9/27, Price) reports that a Utah “study group has laid out a handful of options for expanding Medicaid” in that state, even “though Gov. Gary Herbert  (9/27) is still holding off on a decision about expanding the program.” Yesterday, at his annual health summit, the governor “reiterated that he has not yet made up his mind, but said he’s getting closer.” Previously, the governor has indicated he may wait until January to decide.

Full Medicaid Expansion Would Benefit 123,000 Uninsured Utahans. The Deseret (UT) News  (9/27, Leonard) reports, “More than 370,000 Utahans are uninsured, and about 123,000 would be eligible for state and federally funded Medicaid programs under a full expansion of the program.” Gov. Gary Herbert “has convened a legislative task force and a work group made up of various stakeholders and community advocates to study all available options when it comes to the possibility of expanding the state’s Medicaid program.” The governor defends the process as “deliberate,” saying that “a ‘ready, shoot, aim approach’ would be dangerous.”

Uninsured Utah Woman Presses For Medicaid Expansion. The Salt Lake (UT) Tribune  (9/26, Stewart) reports that Magna, UT resident and autoimmune disorder patient Sherilyn Horrocks, one among 123,000 people in Utah without insurance “who would qualify for Medicaid under an optional expansion of the low-income health program through the Affordable Care Act,” attended Gov. Gary Herbert’s yearly health summit on Thursday in an effort to “persuade him to expand Medicaid.” Utah still has not chosen to expand its Medicaid program, and Republicans in the state Legislature are opposed to expansion. The piece noted that 10 years ago, “the Institute of Medicine estimated that 18,314 Americans aged 25-64 die annually for lack of insurance.” Horrocks, whose systemic sclerosis will shorten her life, is hoping that at least some sort of expansion will take place soon.

Missouri Panel Looks To Change State Medicaid Program.

The Columbia (MO) Missourian  (9/27, Ampel) reports that yesterday, the Missouri House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation made the decision to start “drafting legislation during the next several weeks proposing changes to the state Medicaid program,” hoping “to land a federal waiver that could help subsidize private health insurance premiums for low-income” residents. At a hearing yesterday, “the committee reviewed four proposed Medicaid expansion models: one from Iowa, Indiana and Arkansas, as well as a plan US Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) proposed as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.”

On its website, KOLR-TV Springfield (MO)  Springfield, MO (9/27, Stern) reports, “According to an estimate by the Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured,” under the Affordable Care Act, the state “could expand its Medicaid program to cover 308,000 more people.” For its part, “the Missouri general assembly has rejected Medicaid expansion, fearing those expanded costs and increased taxes.”

Corbett Proposes Healthy Pennsylvania Plan.

On its “Morning Edition” program and in its “Shots” blog, NPR  (9/26, Brady) reported that earlier this month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett proposed the Healthy Pennsylvania  plan, “which includes a Medicaid overhaul.” Under the plan, “new enrollees would get coverage from private health insurance companies through health exchanges.” What’s more, the governor would like “new beneficiaries to look for work and pay a premium of up to $25 a month.” According to Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Fabien Levy, HHS will need more details before it can approve Corbett’s proposal.

Pennsylvania Senate Votes To Eliminate CHIP Waiting Period. The Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News  (9/27, Wenner) reports that an integral portion “of Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to cover more uninsured people in Pennsylvania was approved by the state Senate on” Sept. 25. On Wednesday, “the Senate voted to eliminate a six month waiting period before children are eligible for” the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), voting to do so “while reauthorizing the CHIP program, which covers 187,000 Pennsylvania children.”

Iowa Still Awaits Full Federal Waiver On Medicaid Option.

The Sioux City (IA) Journal  (9/26, Boshart) reports that following his meetings this week in Washington, DC with the US Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to get a waiver for more Medicaid funding for the Iowa Health and Wellness plan, Gov. Terry Branstad announced yesterday that “Federal officials have not signed off on Iowa’s low-income health care expansion because they don’t like the use of premiums in the plan.” Right now, Iowa’s “proposed program calls for eventually charging some small premiums intended to serve as health incentives and help contain costs.” The governor reiterated that “participants can avoid the charges if they complete certain health goals.”

Medicaid Expansion In Ohio May Benefit 666,000 Uninsured.

The Youngstown (OH) Vindicator  (9/27, Cocklin) reports that “as the landmark Affordable Care Act inches closer to becoming a reality in 2014 – when most of it takes effect – hundreds of thousands of Ohioans could find themselves without coverage” if Medicaid is not expanded in that state. Ohio is “said to be leaning toward an expansion that, at the moment, remains a topic of fierce debate and uncertainty among lawmakers and policy experts.” Some estimates figure that, under Medicaid expansion, some 666,000 Ohio residents could get health coverage.

Wisconsin Counties Association’s Resolution On Medicaid Expansion Contested.

The Portage (WI) Daily Register  (9/27, Damos) reports that a resolution  passed Sunday at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Counties Association “urges Wisconsin lawmakers to accept enhanced federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program.” But, WCA leadership “took exception,” when news of the resolution’s passage was announced by the group Citizen Action in a Sept. 23 press release . That same day, the WCA also issued a press release  implying that Citizen Action “had mischaracterized WCA’s position on Medicaid funding.”

King County, Washington Reaches Out To Enroll Homeless In Medicaid.

The Seattle Times  (9/27, Landa) “Healthcare Checkup” blog reports from Washington state that those “who work directly with homeless adults in King County are gearing up to enroll as many of their clients as possible in the state’s expanded Medicaid program.” According to John Gilvar, program manager for high-risk populations planning and policy development at Seattle & King County Public Health, in King County alone, “more than 7,000 adults are homeless and uninsured and will qualify for Medicaid as a result of the eligibility expansion.” To help get these people to sign up for coverage, the public health department is conducting “targeted outreach to the most vulnerable populations.”


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