A Texas legislative committee is urging the state to renew a special Medicaid waiver that reimburses hospitals that care for the uninsured in lieu of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. The state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services declined to recommend widening Medicaid eligibility under the federal healthcare law but did not rule out the possibility of an alternative path to expanding coverage.
Millions of low-income children are failing to get the free preventive exams and screenings guaranteed by Medicaid and the Obama administration is not doing enough to fix the problem, according to a report by the HHS' Office of Inspector General. The audit found the administration has boosted rates of participation but needs to do more to ensure that children get the regular wellness exams, dental checkups and vision and hearing tests.
Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal next year will ask to continue Medicaid expansion, though it's unclear whether legislative Republicans will overcome their prior opposition and approve funding for it, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Budget Director Tim Keen said Kasich's budget plan for the next two years, which will be unveiled next February, will seek to continue funding for Medicaid expansion.
The re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states. Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said the playing field for Medicaid expansion didn't shift dramatically. Even if Democrats had been victorious in governor races, they still faced a long shot getting Medicaid expansion through Republican-controlled legislatures:
In a speech to the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell called Medicaid expansion one of her "top priorities" and asked any governors elected during the mid-terms to reach out if they are interested in discussing their options. "We're eager and willing to work with states that have yet to expand," Burwell told the NAMD conference. Democrats running in five competitive races have promised to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
The implementation of the ACA along with payment and delivery system reforms are transforming how Medicaid is provided, as a result, FY2014 was a year of change for Medicaid directors and their programs, according to this report from the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Some of the key findings include:
Massachusetts reached a five-year, $41.4 billion Medicaid waiver with the federal government, state HHS Secretary John Polanowicz announced. The agreement with CMS aligns Massachusetts' subsidized coverage programs with the ACA and addresses alternative payment systems. It includes $20 billion in federal money to help improve care for patients through continued health transformation of the healthcare delivery system. The agreement includes $20 billion in federal funding; the state will pay the rest.
Medicaid coverage could be expanded to the poorest of the poor in six states depending on the outcome of the 2014 governors' races, says Avalere Health. If elected, Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine and Wisconsin, along with an independent in Alaska, might try to expand Medicaid to all of the people the ACA intended the law to cover, Avalere says. Several states already expanding Medicaid, especially Arkansas and Pennsylvania, could also see a shift in gubernatorial control starting next year.
Illinois is moving forward with plans to shift at least 50% of the state's 3 million Medicaid enrollees into care coordination programs by Jan. 1, 2015. The state started enrolling most of these people in July, though some Medicaid patients were moved to these programs as early as 2011. The state offers five types of care coordination, with the aim of each plan being to give each Medicaid enrollee a health plan and a primary care physician.
A report by a team of University of Michigan Medical School researchers found that the initial success of Michigan's Medicaid expansion may be of use to other states considering their own plans to expand the low-income health program through the Affordable Care Act. The report showed that nearly 328,000 Michigan residents signed up for the Healthy Michigan Plan within 100 days after it launched in April. That number surpassed the plan's first-year goal of 322,000.
A Policy Matters Ohio report showed that several hospitals are treating fewer uninsured patients and paying less for charity care due largely to the increase in Medicaid enrollees due to expansion of the low-income healthcare program through the Affordable Care Act. More than 367,000 previously ineligible Ohioans have enrolled in Medicaid. Findings from individual providers covered in the report include:
A report from the Heritage Foundation showed that, of the 8.5 million total individuals who gained health insurance coverage via the Affordable Care Act, 71% of that net coverage gain was attributable to the health law's expansion of Medicaid. In the states that adopted and implemented Medicaid expansion under the law, enrollment rose dramatically as an additional 5.7 million Americans signed up for coverage, the report showed.
According to a CMS report, Medicaid enrollment increased by nearly 9 million between October 2013 and the end of August 2014, boosting total enrollment in the low-income health program by 14.7%. The report showed enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP stood at 67.9 million at the end of last August, with 27.8 million children enrolled in both programs.
Twenty-two states are increasing benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries in fiscal year 2015 and two states are cutting benefits, according to a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Association of Medicaid Directors. The two states, Utah and Indiana, cutting Medicaid benefits mark the fewest states to do so in the last nine years, according to the survey.