Medicaid

States weigh expansion of their Medicaid programs
Several push for more individuals to be covered while others balk because of cost

Participants hold signs during the Senate Democrats’ rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 6, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State officials are seeking to change health care coverage for the nation’s poorest individuals, with Democrats trying to expand Medicaid to cover more people while Republicans aim to save costs over time.

Democratic governors in at least three states with Republican-controlled legislatures are ramping up efforts to pass legislation to expand the program. At the same time, states like Michigan have begun implementing aspects of their requirements that people receiving Medicaid work, which could lead to fewer people being covered if that is upheld in the courts.

State of the Union: Governors keep their distance from Trump
State executives this year have often compared the shape of their states favorably to the federal government.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks beside President Donald Trump at a 2018 White House dinner. Ducey this year noted differences between “the Arizona way” and “D.C. politicians.” (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

To hear New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tell it, his Empire State is strong but threatened by a national mood he compared to a sea “as tempest-tossed as we have seen,” with “waves of anxiety, injustice and frustration  . . .  fanned by winds of anger and division, creating a political and social superstorm.”

His Jan. 8 State of the State address in Albany framed the state of the union under President Donald Trump as a disaster that would be far worse for New Yorkers if not for his state government.

HHS cheers overdose drop but urges states to cap Medicaid
Administration proposes capped Medicaid funding in exchange for added flexibility

(Ian Wagreich/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House announced the first decline in overdose deaths since the earliest days of the opioid crisis and attributed it to administration actions, even as officials simultaneously said they would let states cap funding for Medicaid, a common way for patients to get treatment.

A 4 percent dip in the number of overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018 could indicate that the crest of the opioid crisis has passed, said White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway, who called the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data a “turning point.”

Fiscal crunch won't be immediate, budget scorekeeper says
Low interest rates mean Congress has more time to address growing federal deficits

CBO Director Phillip Swagel testifies before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The threat of rising federal deficits has a silver lining: low interest rates.

Those low rates, which make Treasury debt less costly, mean Congress has more time to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, the head of the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers Wednesday.

Supreme Court allows Trump's ‘public charge’ rule to proceed
The 5-4 ruling would deny green cards to immigrants who use federal aid programs

The "public charge" rule was originally issued last August by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Ken Cuccinelli, the agency's acting director. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can implement its divisive “public charge” rule, which seeks to withhold citizenship from immigrants the government deems likely to rely on public benefits like Medicaid and Section 8 housing. 

In the 5-4 vote, conservative-leaning justices voted to grant the administration its request to stay a lower court injunction on the rule while the merits of the case continue to be debated in the lower courts. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen G. Breyer voted against the stay. 

Repeal of Obamacare taxes stirs questions on durability of offsets
Democrats once touted law’s fiscal soundness. That’s getting harder to do

The repeal of three taxes levied under the 2010 health care law underscores how much easier it is for lawmakers to give the public a new benefit than it is to impose ways to pay for it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The repeal last month of three taxes levied under the 2010 health care law represents one of several ways Congress has chipped away over the years at provisions paying for it, but a left-leaning budget think tank calculates the law will still save money overall.

Democratic leaders have often highlighted the law’s offsets as an example of fiscal responsibility, noting that it expanded coverage to more than 20 million people while Congressional Budget Office estimates showed it still saved the federal government money. They contrasted that with a 2003 law to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, which was not paid for.

Appeals court hears arguments over health care cost-sharing subsidies

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the cost-sharing subsidies cases in December, and the high court’s decision could impact the cases over the health insurance industry’s claims that the government maintained an implied contract with the plans even in the absence of appropriations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard arguments Thursday over whether the government owes health insurance plans money through subsidies mandated under the 2010 health care law, which created so-called cost-sharing subsidies for insurers to reduce low-income consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

President Donald Trump halted the subsidies in 2017, prompting health care plans on the insurance exchanges across the country to increase their premium rates the following year. But Congress never appropriated specific funds for the subsidies, which the federal government argued ended the obligation of the Department of Health and Human Services to pay the plans. 

Extending Medicaid after childbirth could reduce maternal deaths

Dr. Jessica Young, left, and Erika Rodriguez, a social worker, at Vanderbilt Women’s Health in Nashville, Tennessee. (Christine Vestal/The Pew Charitable Trusts)

By Christine Vestal, Stateline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Samantha Powell, 29, says she wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the mental health services she received after her last child was born.

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

Overlooked plans to add Medicare benefits get more attention
Savings from drug pricing bill would cover additional dental, vision, hearing coverage under Democratic plan

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a dentist who was elected to Congress in 2018, supports adding dental coverage to Medicare but says ensuring a fair reimbursement rate will be crucial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A long-shot bid to expand health care benefits for seniors is beginning to gain attention as part of Democrats’ signature health care bill, which the House is expected to vote on Thursday. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee leaders are aiming to use savings from the drug bill to add dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare. Democrats say the legislation could result in $500 billion in savings over a decade, based on guidance they received from the Congressional Budget Office.