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In Brief: Iowa Won't Expand Medicaid; Michigan Blues Bill Progresses

By By Payers & Providers Staff

Feb 25, 2013

Midwest Region

Iowa Won't Expand Medicaid Under ACA

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has notified the federal government that his state will not expand the Medicaid program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Instead, Branstad has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a waiver to expand the IowaCare program, which provides a limited form of healthcare coverage to about 70,000 enrollees who are not eligible for Medicaid but earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Most of the hospital care is restricted to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics system.

“I am very comfortable that we have made the right decision and we are going to continue to pursue this waiver and we’re working with them on a partnership exchange, and that’s what I told Secretary Sebelius,” Branstad told the Associated Press. “We want to cooperate with them as much as we can, but we’re not going to buy into a ’60s federal program that’s unaffordable and unsustainable.

Branstad's position has been criticized by statehouse Democrats, who want to participate in the Medicaid expansion under the ACA.

Michigan Blues Bill Progresses

Two bills that would transform Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has moved to that state's House of Representatives for a full vote after passing the Senate.

The Blues bills would lift the tax exemption for the state's largest insurer – translating to about $100 million in annual revenues – as it changes its status from a charitable organization to a mutual benefit insurance company. It would also require the Michigan Blues to spend about $1.6 billion to endow a fund intended to improve the health of the state's residents. In exchange, the Blues would be free of extra layers of regulatory scrutiny regarding premium rates other insurers in the state do not undergo.

A prior version of the legislation had bipartisan support, but conservative lawmakers threw in last-minute abortion restrictions before it reached Gov. Rick Snyder's desk. He vetoed that bill last month. The new bill in its current form does not contain any abortion-related language.


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