Medicaid expansion battles escalate, expand

The fight over Medicaid expansion in Florida and Texas escalated this week, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) warned Tennessee and Kansas that their special funding to pay hospitals and doctors for treating the poor could be pulled if they don't expand Medicaid, reported Kaiser Health News.

CMS intends to apply the same negotiating principles to all states receiving funding for uncompensated care pools. CMS officials have confirmed that they've already reached out to California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico.

"We've been in contact with those states that have uncompensated care pools and reiterated that we look forward to an ongoing dialogue to develop a solution that works for patients, hospitals and the taxpayer," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said Tuesday, KHN reported. "We told states that our letter to Florida articulates key principles CMS will use in considering proposals regarding uncompensated care pool programs in their states, but that discussions with each state will also take into account state-specific circumstances."

The CMS warning comes on the heels of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) supporting a lawsuit that Florida officials have threatened to file against the Obama administration for allegedly coercing the state to expand Medicaid, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"I commend Governor Rick Scott's decision to take legal action to protect these important constitutional principles. Texas will support Florida in its litigation against the federal government," Abbott said in a statement.

The lawsuit, according to Scott, stems from the Obama administration's approach to Medicaid expansion in Florida. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has refused to fund Florida and Texas hospitals that treat low-income patients if they don't expand their Medicaid programs, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

CMS officials argue that the hospital funding for uncompensated care pools shouldn't be extended because the costs would be covered under a Medicaid expansion, The Hill reported. But Scott argues that this CMS tactic is an unfair tool intended to pressure Florida into expanding Medicaid.

To learn more:
- check out the Kaiser Health News article
- read the Orlando Sentinel article
- see Abbott's statement
- read The Hill article