The Obama administration signed off Tuesday on a Republican governor’s proposal for accepting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad won approval for a plan to essentially privatize the health care law’s Medicaid expansion. Iowans eligible for expanded Medicaid program will be covered by private insurance sold through the state’s exchange.
Iowa is the second state to win approval for a privatized Medicaid expansion. The first was Arkansas, where Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe faced resistance from the GOP-controlled state legislature. Former President Bill Clinton has repeatedly talked up the private model as a way to expand coverage even in states that are reluctant to implement Obamacare.
Under the waiver the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved for Iowa, the federal government will initially pay the full cost of the expansion ““ as it would for traditional Medicaid. The federal contribution gradually falls to 90 percent.
People eligible for the Medicaid expansion ““ those with incomes between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty line ““ are covered, but with private plans sold through the exchange, rather than traditional Medicaid. CMS said the private option would give Iowa more flexibility to experiment with structural Medicaid reforms.
“Iowa has pioneered innovative, state-based solutions for Medicaid expansion, and we are pleased to grant this waiver,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “CMS stands ready to work with other states to explore options that aim to improve care and lower costs in the Medicaid program.”
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Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were granted broad subpoena power Thursday, as the committee "voted unanimously to give [Burr and Warner] the blanket authority for the duration of the investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with President Trump's campaign." The two leaders must agree, but no longer need the approval of the rest of the committee.
Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election Thursday to fill the Montana House seat left vacant when Donald Trump selected former Congressman Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary. Gianforte, who lost a race for Montana governor in 2016, took 50 percent of the vote to Democrat Rob Quist's 44 percent. Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the night before the election and it was unclear if it would affect the race. In his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to Jacobs, saying "Last night, I made a mistake and I took an action that I cant take back ... I am sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs."