Michigan’s new Democratic governor is attempting to reverse course on steps taken by her Republican predecessor to require childless, able-bodied beneficiaries of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion to meet work, training or community service requirements. In a February letter to the federal administrator of the program, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the work requirements “onerous.”

In the letter, Whitmer cited an analysis by the Manatt law firm, which predicted that Michigan’s new Medicaid work requirements would cause 61,000 to 183,000 people to lose their health coverage over the course of a year. 

Doug Badger, senior fellow at the Galen Institute, says when so few individuals who were eligible for the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas re-enrolled, they made a rational decision that they were better off without the benefits.

“If you don’t report any work activity at all, after being told that this would cause you to lose benefits, that suggests that you don’t value the benefits very highly. This is consistent with research showing that Medicaid recipients receive about 20 to 40 cents of benefits for every dollar of Medicaid spending,” Badger said.

Hospital industry lobbying against health care regulatory changes paid off Thursday when the Georgia House voted against major certificate-of-need (CON) legislation by a 94-72 margin.

House Bill 198 remained alive temporarily after the chamber approved a motion to reconsider the legislation. But by late afternoon, the lead sponsor, Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin), said the bill would not be brought back up on Thursday, which was the 2019 General Assembly session’s Crossover Day.

Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut introduced legislation Thursday that would create a public option for health-care coverage, allowing individuals and small businesses to buy insurance through the state. Under the proposal, Connecticut would create multiple plans that small businesses and their employees could buy starting in July, leveraging the state’s existing purchasing power to lower costs. And in 2021 Connecticut would begin offering a new health-insurance option that any state resident would be able to join. The public insurance would offer coverage options for small businesses and individuals who don’t qualify for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, officials said.

After health care sharply divided Democratic and Republican candidates in last fall’s campaigns, Florida lawmakers are considering wide-ranging changes to what a GOP leader derides as the “hospital-industrial complex.”

Ideas on the table in Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature steer clear of demands for universal health care or Medicaid expansion, advanced by federal and state Democratic contenders during the November elections.

States that expanded their Medicaid health insurance programs are hunting for ways to fund the new enrollees in 2020 as they face a final drop in federal contributions.

The federal government will still cover the bulk of the costs of care for the roughly 13 million Americans newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which allowed states to expand the program to people earning somewhat above the federal poverty level. But the gradually decreasing federal contribution — originally set at 100 percent but reduced to 90 percent starting next year — has left some states with budget holes to fill.

Gov. Brian Kemp unveiled legislation Wednesday that could remake health care for hundreds of thousands of Georgians. Or just a few.

The Patients First Act would give the governor wide latitude to approve a range of options in pursuit of federal “waivers” with the aim of improving government-funded health care access for the poor and middle class.

The Utah Legislature on Monday passed a bill to replace the voter-approved Medicaid expansion with a skinny expansion, a move that may encourage other states to seek similar scaled-back expansions with full federal funding.

The Republican-controlled Utah Senate approved legislation passed by the state House of Representatives Friday that replaces the voter-passed expansion to adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level with an expansion only to 100% of the poverty level. It passed on a near party-line vote, with one Republican joining all Democrats in opposition.

Health policy analysts have long been puzzled that millions of uninsured people snub the government’s offer of free health benefits. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that seven million of the 27.5 million nonelderly people who were uninsured in 2016 were eligible for Medicaid. That’s more than one-fourth of the uninsured population. Another eight million were eligible for Obamacare premium subsidies, meaning that more than half the nonelderly uninsured didn’t avail themselves of government-subsidized health coverage.

Academic research suggests one possible reason: Medicaid recipients aren’t the primary beneficiaries of the program’s spending.

The Senate gave final approval Monday to a replacement plan for the voter-approved full Medicaid expansion after more than an hour of debate — and a last-minute update to the price tag.

Health care advocates called the bill — which would forgo $1 billion in federal matching funds — a “bridge to nowhere.”

The 22-7 vote — with all six Democrats and Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, opposed — didn’t change from the initial vote on SB96 last week, on the third day of the 2019 Legislature.

The shrill criticism of the Arkansas’s Medicaid work requirements is not supported by facts. Health policy analysts have long been puzzled that millions of uninsured people snub the government’s offer of free health benefits. The reason so many Medicaid recipients failed to comply with the Arkansas work requirement may be as simple as this: They didn’t consider the benefits worth the effort.  Yet, a study by the Buckeye Institute found that people who favorably respond to work requirements will earn far more—in some cases nearly $1 million more—over the course of a lifetime than those who remain on Medicaid and don’t increase their work efforts.