January 06, 2015

A pair of GOP governors said that President Obama appears more willing to compromise on the path toward Medicaid expansion in several red states following a meeting, The Hill reports. Govs. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) and Gary Herbert (R-Utah) believe the president would sign off on their states' alternative expansion plans for the low-income insurance program. Herbert, vice chair of the National Governor's Association, said Obama pledged to revisit the issue, while McCrory said he expected “immediate dialogue" with HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

January 05, 2015

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he'll unveil a major healthcare initiative designed to strengthen Vermont's primary care physician network. A second goal of the plan is to lower the cost of private health insurance premiums. The governor says his decision not to pursue a single-payer healthcare system doesn't mean he won't propose some key healthcare reform plans. One of these plans involves the Medicaid reimbursement rate that's paid to healthcare providers. In many cases, this rate represents less than 60% of the actual cost of the service.

January 04, 2015

Kaiser Health News reports for PBS NewsHour on financial gains made by some hospitals as more patients are able to pay their bills, and the heavy price being paid by hospitals in states that opted against expansion.

December 18, 2014

Cindy Mann, the deputy administrator at CMS, will step down next month, after five years in the position. She earned praise nationwide as a fierce advocate for healthcare access and a key leader in the rollout of Obamacare. Since taking the helm in 2009, Mann has overseen historic expansions of both Medicaid and CHIP. The agency also touted Mann's relationships with state leaders - a role that has been key as CMS entices Republican governors and legislatures to sign onto important pieces of Obamacare, such as expanding the eligibility for Medicaid.

December 15, 2014

Alaska Governor-elect Bill Walker (I) campaigned on the promise he'd expand Medicaid, a promise for which he'll have to face Alaska's Republican-controlled legislature that hasn't been willing to even consider the idea. Around 40,000 low-income Alaskans would receive health benefits under Medicaid expansion. The federal government would pay 100% of the costs until the end of 2016. After that, the state's share would increase to 10% by 2020. Walker says Alaskans already pay taxes that fund the expansion.

December 14, 2014

Tennessee struck a tentative deal with the federal government to become the latest red state to expand Medicaid, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) announced. Haslam said he received verbal approval from HHS to move forward with a new pilot to help about 200,000 low-income Tennesseans gain coverage. The state's plan veers from the traditional route of expanding Medicaid, and is on track to receive federal dollars.
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December 10, 2014

Medicare and Medicaid are proposing to broaden decision-making rights for same-sex couples in light of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a ban on federal benefits for gay and lesbian spouses. CMS released a 26-page proposed rule requiring that providers and suppliers in the programs recognize same-sex spouses as a condition for participation. If finalized, the regulation would apply to hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, hospice providers and community mental health centers.

December 09, 2014

The ACA increased Medicaid fees for primary care doctors for 2013 and 2014, with the federal government paying the cost. That boost expires Jan. 1 and efforts to secure an extension from Congress appear thwarted by the political debate over Obamacare.

December 08, 2014

Blue Shield of California agreed to acquire Care1st, a Monterey Park-based health plan with more than 500,000 patients. Insurance giant Blue Shield hasn't previously participated in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. As a result, it has missed out on the program's growth to 11.3 million Californians as part of the federal health law expansion.

December 07, 2014

In this Health Affairs Blog post, Children's Hospital Association president and CEO Mark Wietecha argues that the fragmented Medicaid system must evolve to better meet the needs of medically complex children, and points to regional care networks and national data support as two viable tools for containing costs while improving care for this population. Medicaid has become essential healthcare payor for children, supporting coverage for more than 30 million children, including two million with medical complexity - a population projected to double over the coming decade.

December 07, 2014

The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and the Urban Institute sponsored a conference in Nov. 2013 to identify gaps in knowledge related to changes in the Medicaid program occurring under the ACA. This summary of the proceedings includes a status report on the major Medicaid policy changes that occurred around the country under the ACA and during the 2013 open enrollment period, and an assessment of research questions on topics related to Medicaid, including:

December 06, 2014

New Hampshire is close to meeting its first-year enrollment target for the state's expanded Medicaid program less than six months after sign-ups began. Officials expected 30,000 to 40,000 of the estimated 50,000 eligible adults would sign up in the first year. As of mid-week, just fewer than 25,300 had signed up. The associate commissioner of the state HHS, attributes the high numbers to the education and outreach efforts by her department and others and strong relationships among state officials, community health and mental health centers and hospitals.

December 02, 2014

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) received an endorsement from a collection of states that urged Congress to extend the program's funding at least through the end of 2019. Thirty-nine governors and state health officials wrote to lawmakers to praise CHIP as the House and Senate begin debate over the program's budget, which expires on Sept. 30, 2015. CHIP is operated by states, jointly funded by states and the federal government, and covers roughly 8 million children annually.