Virginia’s State Senate Just Voted to Expand Medicaid

The Virginia state Senate voted Wednesday to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, with four Republicans crossing party lines to join all Senate Democrats in backing the move.

The House of Delegates, which already passed a version of Medicaid expansion, will need to vote again to make expansion a reality, but the odds now seem overwhelming that Virginia will become the 33rd state to expand Medicaid (Washington, DC, has also expanded).

That’s big news for about 400,000 poor and near-poor Virginians who will gain access to affordable health insurance, and a big deal to the state’s health care providers, who’ll get an injection of clients and money — an important topic for residents of rural areas writ large since expansion helps ensure that hospitals can stay in business, which helps even people who aren’t directly assisted by Medicaid expansion. Read More at Vox

Exclusive: Here Are Details of New Plan to Revive Obamacare Repeal

A group of more than 40 right-of-center healthcare experts led by the Heritage Foundation is expected to release recommendations to Congress next month on a new plan to overhaul Obamacare.

The recommendation would convert Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies into a system of block grants to the states, according to a source familiar with the plan, with the exact growth formula to be determined by Congress.

But, unlike previous Republican healthcare plans, it would not make changes to the funding or structure of traditional Medicaid.

The plan would allow states that get the block grant to waive rules requiring plans to have essential health benefits and to maintain a single risk pool and it would give more leeway to insurers to charge more based on age. Read More at the Washington Examiner

Koch-Backed Group Details Hopes for Obamacare Replacement

A conservative group funded by the Koch brothers is pushing for high-risk pools and a freeze on Medicaid expansions as lawmakers try to coalesce around a replacement for ObamaCare.

Freedom Partners began circulating a memo on Capitol Hill Monday with specific reforms it thinks should be included in the healthcare law’s replacement, including: the creation of high-risk pools at the state level to cover people with pre-existing conditions; the elimination of the ObamaCare mandate, which required everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty; and the expansion of access to health savings accounts, so people can save and pay for healthcare with pre-tax dollars.

The recommendations fall in line with what top Republicans in Congress have indicated they support.

Read more at The Hill

Ohio Gov. Says Obamacare Opponents Don’t Understand The Bible

John Nolte writes in a posting for Breitbart (online, Oct. 6) that in a recent “appearance before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich offered to buy Bibles for those of us who don’t agree with his decision to increase the welfare state.”

Some may recall it was Kasich who acquiesced to the Affordable Care Act’s Ohio Medicaid expansion. At the Chamber of Commerce gathering, Kasich retorted (for the benefit of his healthcare adversaries), “Look at Medicaid expansion. Do you know how many people are yelling at me? I go out to events where people yell at me. You know what I tell ‘em? . . . I say, there’s a book. It’s got a new part and an old part; they put it together, it’s a remarkable book. If you don’t have one, I’ll buy you one. It talks about how we treat the poor. Sometimes you just have to lead.”

Nolte’s Breitbart article poses this food for thought, “I don’t mean to argue with Brother Kasich, but I must have missed the part where the Christian thing to do is to use the punitive power of The State to force your personal Christian values on others.”

  • Nolte also cites a prior occasion in which Kasich invoked Christianity over those whom he disagreed with (in 2013) saying, “I had a conversation with one of the members of the legislature the other day. I said, ‘I respect the fact that you believe in small government. I do, too. I also know that you’re a person of faith. ‘Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.’”
  • A Real Clear Politics “average of polls,” says Kasich’s national approval rating currently stands at just over 3 percent. Comparatively, NBC News has the Ohio governor sliding by half, to 6 percent, down from 12 percent.


Healthcare Stalemate In Florida Spurs Warfare

More Obamacare news from The Sunshine State. Republicans are huddling in there – in the state’s capital, Tallahassee – as they gear up to oppose Medicaid Expansion full throttle. Meanwhile, Florida State Senators have held a “public workshop,” according to the Orlando Sentinel – in a report (online, by Gray Rohrer, Apr. 22).

Indicative of the depths of feelings over the Obamacare issue in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel report elaborates, “Members of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, group of leaders from multiple faiths, added to that pressure Tuesday [Apr. 21]. They met with [Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando] to thank him for pushing for the Medicaid expansion plan, after first praying for the House to come around on the issue.”

Meanwhile Florida state senators have also “pushed for Medicaid expansion as a replacement for care for the poor and uninsured.” Additionally, according to the Orlando Sentinel, one plan supported by Gardiner, “requires the 800,000 newly eligible Medicaid recipients to pay co-pays and premiums and be employed or looking for work.”

Rohrer’s report also notes, “Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, is running ads across the state attacking senators from supporting Medicaid expansion.”

Read more at The Orlando Sentinel

Key Democrat Wants Medicaid Files From Gov. Perry

In advance of the midterm elections, Democrats are latching onto the issue of Medicaid expansion as one way to attack the Affordable Care Act’s opponents. This may be an attempt at aiding incumbent Democrats in conservative-leaning states who are at-risk of losing their seat. While U.S. Democratic governors are consistently in favor of Medicaid expansion under the umbrella of Obamacare, Republican governors are in disharmony over their own ACA support or lack of it.

According to a report in Tuesday’s The Hill, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is seeking documents from Republican Gov. Rick Perry requesting specific information on why healthcare for the poor was rejected in the governor’s home state of Texas.

The inquiry also seeks information on how much healthcare funding Perry and other governors might turn down over the next decade, the cost of coverage for those who are Medicaid-ineligible, and the total number of those without added coverage.

Read more at The Hill

Divorce, Obamacare Style

Opponents of state-level Medicaid expansion generally deem the program as too costly. This is in spite of the fact that reducing the numbers of the uninsured can actually benefit a state. According to Think Progress (July 7) generous federal funding is available to those states open
to Medicaid growth. For example, were it to climb on board, Tennessee would receive over $ 9.4 billion in revenue starting this year and into 2019. Tennessee’s refusal of such funds is now grounds for divorce for one elderly couple.

Think Progress tells the story of Larry and Linda Drain who were married for 33 years. They live apart, because they have no other way to ensure that Linda can get the medical care she needs for her epilepsy. Tennessee lawmakers have thus far refused to implement Obamacare. Linda Drain is jobless and unemployable due to her condition. Without health insurance she can’t get the medication she needs. The Drains also fall into what’s known as the “coverage gap”: they make too much money to qualify for TennCare, Tennessee’s public insurance program. They also make too little to receive federal subsidies to buy a plan on Obamacare’s new private marketplace.

Read more at Think Progress

Working Poor Losing Obamacare as States Resist Medicaid

A 2012  U.S. Supreme Court ruling upheld Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, it also let states choose not to expand federal-state Medicaid programs. Texas has opted out, for example, a state which has the highest rate of uninsured people in America.

Read more at The Washington Times

Jan Brewer’s Obamacare Deception

Author claims that Arizona Governor Brewer aggressively and voluntarily pushed implementation of Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion, despite her denials that she’s not really implementing Obamacare — or at least not any major portion of it.

Read more at The Weekly Standard

Obamacare Allies Eye Ballot Initiatives

Frustrated by conservative opposition to extending Medicaid even in states where Republican governors have embraced it, the president’s allies will ask voters to accept billions of federal dollars to cover people under Obamacare.

Read more at Politico