Group: Medicaid, Obamacare are issues to watch in 2014

With one of every six dollars in the economy going to fund health care, state legislators can be sure that health issues will be a high priority during the 2014 legislative session, according to the Council on State Governments.

The organization released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in education, energy and the environment, fiscal, health, interstate compacts and transportation. Reining in spending and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are sure to be hot topics.

While states last year debated whether to expand Medicaid eligibility as part of the ACA, the issue is far from dead, and some states will revisit the debate, the group contends. As for the health insurance marketplaces, more issues are expected to arise as people who signed up for coverage begin to use it.

“A significant portion of all health care spending is by states for Medicaid, public employees and public retirees,” said Debra Miller, CSG Director of Health Policy. “State governments must continue to look for smart policy levers to curb spending, but at the same time, improve health. States to watch include Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont.

“States will continue to wrestle with the question of expanding Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level,” Miller added. “Despite the lure of full federal funding for three years beginning Jan. 1, 2014, in half the states policymakers decided to proceed more slowly, acting on the old adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

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