March 07, 2015

Kansas health regulators have been working to repeal a 2002 law that prohibits the state from regulating mental health drugs used for treating Medicaid patients. Meanwhile, the state can regulate other drugs for treating heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer.

March 05, 2015

A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would provide free birth control to women enrolled in Medicaid, while also expanding access to preventative services nationwide. The bill would also launch a study of the abortion access, create new training programs for nurses who specialize in women's health and ensure that all hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims. The biggest piece of the bill is providing free contraception for all women enrolled in Medicaid.

March 04, 2015

A significant part of Governor Charlie Baker's proposal to tame a projected $1.8-billion state budget shortfall involves squeezing savings out of MassHealth. Officials said, rather than chopping benefits, narrowing eligibility or slicing rates paid to medical providers, Baker is proposing people reenroll in the program and moving costs into the next fiscal year, making them on or after July 1, 2016. By redetermining eligibility for about 1.2 million people on Medicaid, the administration thinks the process will save about $200 million for the state in the new fiscal year.

March 03, 2015

Vermont lawmakers are trying to figure out if increasing Medicaid rates will help curb the cost of private health insurance, but doctors say there's another important reason to boost payments for providing government-funded care. They're worried failure to address the Medicaid issue could create a physician shortage, and put independent practices out of business. Dr. Joe Haddock says recent developments in the Medicaid program related to the federal ACA have lent urgency to the issue of reimbursements.

March 03, 2015

Centene's Missouri subsidiary, Home State Health, has been selected by the state's Division of Purchasing and Materials Management to continue providing managed care services to MO HealthNet Managed Care beneficiaries. The Medicaid private health plan will serve program beneficiaries in 54 counties, effective July 1, 2015. Since 2012, Home State Health's membership has increased by more than 45%, while its network of providers now includes more than 14,000 primary care physicians and specialists.

February 25, 2015

Governor Gina Raimondo named a 28-member working group to develop ways to cut costs and improve medical services to Rhode Island's Medicaid program. Raimondo said reinventing Medicaid is one way she can help the state avert an estimated $500-million deficit by 2019. One of the two co-chairs of the working group, Dennis Keefe, said he believes changes can be made and savings effected without requiring any new money for Medicaid.

February 22, 2015

Over 10 million people enrolled in Medicaid and the children's health insurance program since Obamacare's launch a year and a half ago, the administration announced. The numbers show that through the end of December 2014, 10.75 million more people are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP compared to before Obamacare's coverage expansion took effect in 2013, about a 19% increase. In states that expanded Medicaid, enrollment is up 27% compared to 2013, the administration said. By contrast, in states that have not, enrollment is up 7%.

February 17, 2015

Ohio is among a growing number of states working to enroll prisoners into Medicaid when they get sick and as they are being released. The move could save the state nearly $18 million this year alone in costs of providing healthcare to prisoners - money that would be shifted onto the federal government's tab. Longer term, prison and healthcare officials say it also could help curb the number of repeat offenders as more ex-prisoners gain access to needed mental health services and substance abuse programs, benefits now required to be covered under the ACA.

February 16, 2015

Vermont senate lawmakers want to take advantage of CMS waivers to "fast track" some Medicaid eligibility determinations, but administration officials say it would create more work for the Agency of Human Services. The proposal would allow Vermont to use income information collected through its food stamp program to check people's eligibility, and with their consent, enroll them in Medicaid. Another option is to use income information for children enrolled in Dr. Dynasaur to check their parents' eligibility for adult Medicaid.

February 12, 2015

A group of lawmakers introduced a bill that would publicly finance universal access to primary care services in Vermont by creating a dedicated Universal Primary Care Fund to make capitated payments to providers covering primary care for all Vermont residents. The idea for the bill came from Dr. Deb Richter, a family medicine doctor and advocate for universal healthcare who said she wanted to fill the vacuum created after Gov.

February 10, 2015

Republican-controlled state legislatures may well consider Medicaid expansion in the coming months, although passage is far from certain, according to this piece in The New York Times. The piece looks at expansion efforts in different Republican-controlled states. For example, in Florida, business leaders and hospital executives are pressuring conservative legislative leaders to consider alternative expansion plans in the session that starts next month.

February 09, 2015

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state will expand Medicaid to the full extent under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Wolf will ask the federal government to halt the implementation of his predecessor Republican Tom Corbett's Medicaid expansion plan, which took effect at the start of the year. The program faced charges of undisclosed spending, and drew the scrutiny of the state's auditor general in 2014.

February 07, 2015

The head of New Hampshire's HHS, Nick Toumpas, thinks his agency stands to learn from Apple's transformations under Steve Jobs by focusing on the principle of "concurrent engineering," which emphasized more collaboration across departments instead of the segmented organizational structure.