Medicaid Roundup: Pennsylvania, Louisiana, South Dakota
Unlike the exchange QHP enrollments, which will always continue to be the heart and soul of this website (it's right there in the name, after all), I've kind of gotten away from trying to track Medicaid expansion on a granular level over the past few months. The main reason for this is that in many of the expansion states, they've simply maxed out on enrollees, and the numbers from week to week or even month to month are simply holding steady at this point.
Take my own state of Michigan, for instance. Our implementation of ACA Medicaid expansion, for which supposedly only about 500,000 residents were supposed to qualify, actually shattered that number and eventually reached a whopping 596,000 back on March 23rd, followed by cracking the 600K threshold a week later at 603,000. After that it continued to bobble just above or below the 600K line as people moved on and off of the program...for months. I realized that this seems to simply be the cap for the 138% Federal Poverty Line income threshold here in Michigan, which is fine. Sure enough, this week it's still in that range (down a bit, actually, to 572,000 at the moment). Many other states have been bobbling similarly, so I didn't see the point in tracking every little ebb and flow.
The only noteworthy news about Michigan Medicaid expansion, in fact, will be if it gets torn away completely next April due to our GOP legislature including draconian provisions in the waiver renewal request. If that happens, the number will drop...to zilch.
HOWEVER, there are some states to watch...namely, any state which either recently expanded Medicaid or is about to do so (or is planning on screwing it up royally, as in the cases of Michigan and Kentucky).
On the up side, here's three states with positive Medicaid expansion news to report:
When I last checked in on Dem. Governor Tom Wolf's replacement of predecessor Tom Corbett's overly-complicated waiver program with "standard" Medicaid expansion back in September, it had covered over 440,000 Pennsylvanians.
Gov. Tom Wolf says the signups of 500,000 Pennsylvanians for health care under the Medicaid expansion are part of keeping a campaign promise he made in last year’S election campaign.
Wolf joined state Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas and health care advocates to mark the milestone Thursday at a news conference at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
With his unlikely win of the Louisana Governor's office last month, newly-annointed Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has started the process of fulfilling a campaign promise: Reversing predecessor Bobby Jindal's blockade of bringing Medicaid expansion to the state for up to 300,000 residents:
Senate Finance Committee members asked the Department of Health and Hospitals on Monday (Dec. 7) to produce a report outlining Louisiana's options for expanding Medicaid, to be delivered by Jan. 1.
Monday's meeting was the second time the committee has met about the rising costs of health care in Louisiana since the legislative session ended in June. The tone of the meeting was noticeably different than the committee's Oct. 24 session, when Medicaid expansion was not even mentioned by name.
But since that meeting, Democrat John Bel Edwards was elected governor on a promise to expand Medicaid to more than 300,000 uninsured state residents. That has shifted the conversation to a more pragmatic discussion over the costs and benefits of a new health care policy in Louisiana.
State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, told officials that there should be a clear plan outlining how Medicaid expansion can save the state money.
"At least it would be a base to start from," Thompson said. "One thing I recognized very clearly: We are not getting percentage-wise what other states are getting. And I would like to make sure we have a plan in place that is time-sensitive -- that makes absolutely certain we maximize the dollars for health care in Louisiana."
...Knowing that Edwards has made Medicaid expansion among his highest priorities, they spent two hours Monday going over the program's costs, expressing concern over federal reductions in funding for the former charity hospital system and exploring what other states have done to customize their expanded Medicaid program.
Meanwhile, in SOUTH DAKOTA:
The wall of Republican opposition to helping poor people get health care keeps cracking.
Add South Dakota's Dennis Daugaard to the list of Republican governors who have changed their minds about Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
The second-term governor pitched a plan to expand the joint federal-state health insurance program to as many as 55,000 low-income South Dakotans without using state money during a speech to the overwhelmingly Republican legislature Tuesday. Daugaard rejected the expansion three years ago, objecting to allowing "able-bodied" people to get covered.
It's a start, anyway.