Medicaid expansion roundup: States make decisions about enlarging the program

States continue to make moves toward and away from Medicaid expansion--and the disappointing rollout of the health insurance exchange is affecting some decisions.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced that the state won't expand its Medicaid program, which would have extended Medicaid benefits to 40,000 additional consumers. "A costly Medicaid expansion especially on top of the broken Obamacare system is a hot mess," Parnell said Friday at a news conference, reported Anchorage Daily News.

In Missouri, state Rep. Jay Barnes has drafted a new proposal for the state to expand Medicaid that Republican lawmakers might find amenable. Under his plan, about 225,000 consumers would be eligible for the expanded Medicaid benefits and the state would subsidize private insurance plans for another 82,000 consumers, according to the Joplin Globe.

Barnes hasn't yet introduced legislation with his proposal. But Jen Bersdale, executive director of Missouri Health Care for All, said Missouri lawmakers' renewed focus on possibly expanding Medicaid is part of a "continuation of momentum" behind their cause.

And Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the New York Times that he's "trying to thread a needle from 80 yards" as he continues to work on negotiating a unique kind of Medicaid expansion with the federal government. His plan would use federal money to enroll many of the state's poor consumers in the federal exchange instead of Medicaid. But federal officials want more details about the plan before approving it.

"We don't want to expand a system that's not doing a good job controlling costs," Haslam told the Times. "We want to end up with something that's not just Medicaid with lipstick on it."

Meanwhile, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said that if his state has decided to expand Medicaid's membership, it would have some additional assurances now that the exchange's open enrollment has faced so many problems. Although Bullock was blocked by Republican lawmakers from expanding Medicaid earlier this year, he said he won't be calling a special session "anytime soon" to revisit the issue because GOP leaders still oppose it, the Billings Gazette reported.

To learn more:
- read the Anchorage Daily News article
- see the Billings Gazette article
- check out the Joplin Globe article
- read the New York Times article