OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Four in 10 say health law covers the undocumented


About 4 in 10 people incorrectly believe that the Affordable Care Act extends benefits to illegal immigrants, a new poll found Wednesday. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the survey, about one in three Democrats and more than half of Republicans were mistaken on the question, which has become an issue as Washington weighs principles for immigration reform.

The possibility that provisionally legal immigrants might receive federal benefits prompted backlash at the beginning of this year's debate. Perhaps surprisingly, the Kaiser poll found decisive majorities favor the idea — 63 percent said newly documented immigrants should be able to apply for Medicaid, and 59 percent said they should receive insurance subsidies under healthcare reform.

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Support for giving healthcare benefits to provisionally legal immigrants was highest among Hispanics (83-86 percent support), blacks (77-78) and Democrats (75-77). Illegal immigrants are prohibited from enrolling in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, though program funds may support their emergency and prenatal care, in some cases.

Read more about the poll at Healthwatch. 

What's the deal, Arkansas? Arkansas has won a fairly major Medicaid waiver from the Obama administration — but how will it work? In short, the agreement allows Arkansas to move its Medicaid population into the state's insurance exchange, giving the state private coverage instead of traditional Medicaid. As several healthcare wonks noted Wednesday, that will be a lot more expensive than covering Arkansas residents through Medicaid — for both the state and the federal government. Economist Aaron Carroll puzzled over the move here, at the Incidental Economist blog.

DOMA and health benefits: A handful of healthcare companies were among the group of business interests that filed a brief Wednesday urging the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. The American Benefits Council, which represents companies that administer employer-based health plans, said DOMA makes it too complicated for companies to offer attractive benefits to their workers. The law forces employers to sort through differing definitions of when a couple can be considered married, and which benefits they can claim as a result. Healthwatch has more details about the argument.

CBO and TANF: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Wednesday that a House GOP bill to block the Obama administration's waivers under welfare reform would reduce spending by $59 million over the next 10 years. The news came ahead of Thursday's hearing on the policy, which Republicans say "guts" welfare's work requirement. The House Ways and Means Committee touted the CBO letter, arguing that it shows the waivers policy represents a roughly $60 million "hit" to U.S. taxpayers.

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To reach its conclusion, the CBO argued that with waivers in place, fewer states will see reductions in their welfare grants for not complying with the program's work requirements. Essentially, the federal government will now spend more on the welfare program because states won't being penalized as often with funding reductions, analysts said. The GOP bill would reverse this trend, reducing projected spending by $59 million. Read more from the CBO letter here.

FLOTUS praises Mississippi: First lady Michelle Obama praised Mississippi on Wednesday for a drop in its childhood obesity rate. Obama appeared in the state for the first stop on a tour for her "Let's Move" anti-obesity initiative. Mississippi, which has the highest obesity rate in the country, has seen a 13 percent drop in obesity among young children. The Hill has the story.

Republicans still don't like the ACA: House Republican doctors released a video Wednesday billed as a "health care state of the union." And — surprise, surprise — the state of our healthcare union is not especially strong. The video, which compiles clips from GOP doctors' floor speeches, blames the healthcare law for rising costs and for not fixing Medicare's flawed payment formula for doctors. You can watch it here.


Thursday's agenda

The Ways and Means subcommittee on Human Resources will hold a hearing on the Obama administration's waivers under welfare reform.

The Kaiser Family Foundation will host a town-hall forum with Ambassador Eric Goosby, the head of the State Department’s new Office of Global Health Diplomacy and the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on delivery system reform.


State by state

Montana governor uncorks Medicaid expansion plan

Iowa Dems move forward Medicaid expansion bill

Lone Miss. abortion clinic set for license hearing

Kentucky House passes bill to handle Medicaid managed care disputes


Lobbying registrations

Holland & Knight / Dallas County Hospital District

Holland & Knight / American Association of Poison Control Centers


Reading list

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said a permanent "doc fix" is a high priority, but he isn't sure how to pay for it, Kaiser Health News reports.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog looks at the push to remove limits on the services nurse practitioners can provide.

The politics of healthcare are changing as Republican governors sign on to the Medicaid expansion, NPR reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Study: Substance-abuse treatment still costs patients more

Poll finds 15-point drop in Dem support for health law

Food safety regulators put US cantaloupe growers on notice after outbreak deaths

GOP lawmaker says medical-loss ratio adds to fraud

OSHA promises to protect workers who report healthcare reform law violations

Advocate says FDA mission 'at risk' from lack of funds


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Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

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