Medicaid

The federal health care overhaul makes some notable improvements in insurance coverage for young adults.

They can now stay on their parents' health plans until they turn 26. Next year they can also look for subsidized coverage on the state-based insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges. And they may qualify for Medicaid, if their income are less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 in 2013).

So far, so good.

Two years ago, a landmark study found that having Medicaid health insurance makes a positive difference in people's lives.

Backers of the program have pointed to that study time and again in their push to encourage states to expand the program as part of the federal health law.

OK, the conventional wisdom about the budget President Obama sent to Congress yesterday is that's irrelevant.

It's two months late, after all, and the House and Senate have already approved their own spending blueprints for fiscal 2014.

But here's why it matters when it comes to health.

Since the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion under the federal health law optional last year, states' decisions have largely split along party lines. States run by Democrats have been opting in; states run by Republicans have mostly been saying no or holding back.

Cash-strapped states are coming up with an appealingly simple fix for soaring Medicaid costs: Don't pay for emergency room visits for people who aren't sick enough to be there.

There's a problem, though. It's almost impossible to figure out who's sick enough and who isn't at the moment they walk in the door, researchers say.

Poor adults who live in states that don't go along with the federal health overhaul's expansion of Medicaid face a double whammy.

When the nation's governors gathered in Washington, D.C., over the weekend for their annual winter meeting, the gathering's official theme was about efforts to hire people with disabilities.

Perhaps Florida Gov. Rick Scott's motto should be "never say never."

Can for-profit health insurance companies be trusted to take care of the nation's sickest and most expensive patients?

Many states, under an initiative supported by the Obama administration, are planning to let the companies manage health care for those elderly and disabled people covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.

It's looking increasingly likely that $85 billion of automatic federal budget cuts known as a sequester will come to pass if Congress doesn't act by March 1.

Pages