Insurance issues debated in midterm elections

Democratic wins may lead to higher Medicaid profits for payers

Medicaid and Medicare continue to be campaign issues in the eleventh hour of the midterm legislative and gubernatorial campaigns, and recent headlines suggest payers eyeing Medicaid profits hope for Democratic victories.   

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have thus far chosen to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Most states that rejected Medicaid expansion are led by Republican governors or legislatures, according to Forbes. But some of them are on the political ropes, since Democrats are leading, tied or within the margin of error of various polls.

Gubernatorial candidates in six states could seek Medicaid expansion if elected, the article noted. That makes 2014 "a key election for the future of the Medicaid program" according to Dan Mendelson, CEO of the healthcare advisory company Avalere Health.    

Moreover, some states may find Medicaid expansion more appealing as they consider Pennsylvania's deal with the Obama administration. In that, the White House proved willing to place new responsibilities on beneficiaries and allow the private sector a bigger role when providing healthcare.

New Medicaid business resulting from the program's expansion boosted the bottom line of several leading private insurers, Forbes noted.

Turning to Medicare issues, this year's campaign rhetoric rehashes 2012 messaging, Politico reported. "Republicans accuse Democratic incumbents of cutting $716 billion from Medicare as part of the health reform law in 2010," the article stated. "Democrats say the GOP lawmakers have been trying to 'end Medicare as we know it' since 2011 by turning it into a voucher program as part of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisconsin) House budget plan."

But saying a vote for the ACA is a vote for Medicare cuts is "mostly false," Politico reported. While healthcare reform did try to slow Medicare spending growth through hospital payment cuts and reductions to Medicare Advantage, these measures don't directly affect beneficiaries. And these cuts were retained in GOP budget proposals, the article noted. Further, healthcare reform law added new Medicare benefits.

For more:
- here's the Forbes article
- read the Politico article

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