Alabama: Governor Assembles Health Care Improvement Task Force

Governor Robert Bentley (R) issued an executive order to create the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force, whose primary goal is to "recommend to the Governor ways to improve the health of Alabamians, including strategies to have more accessible and more affordable health care in the state." Alabama's State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson was selected to chair the task force, which is comprised of thirty-seven health care experts and professionals. The task force will convene for its first meeting on April 15.

Michigan: Governor Selects New Director of Insurance & Financial Services

Governor Rick Snyder (R) appointed Pat McPharlin, who served as CEO of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union for the past 14 years, as Michigan’s Director of the Department of Insurance & Financial Services. Subject to State Senate approval, McPharlin will begin his service on May 18.

Missouri: State Law Restrictions on Navigators Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Part of a 2013 state law prohibiting health insurance navigators from “giving advice” to consumers on health plans was struck down by a federal appeals court. The court agreed with opponents of the law who argued that it would have prevented navigators from helping consumers to identify and enroll in a health plan, as intended by the Affordable Care Act, and was therefore pre-empted by the federal law. This ruling is specific to the law in Missouri but could have implications for other states with similar statutes.

Virginia: Eligibility for Behavioral Health Services under Governor's Plan Restricted in State Budget

Recently passed amendments to Virginia’s biennial State budget revised eligibility levels for the “Governor's Access Plan” (GAP), part of Governor Terry McAuliffe's (D) ten-step “A Healthy Virginia” plan, which was championed by the Governor after the State legislature did not approve Medicaid expansion last summer. GAP was approved by CMS in January as part of an 1115 waiver and provides basic medical care and targeted behavioral health services to individuals with serious mental illness up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Changes in the State budget restrict eligibility to individuals up to 60% FPL, but maintain coverage for those between 61% and 100% FPL who are currently accessing services until eligibility is reassessed on July 1, 2016.