Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett reached a deal with the Obama administration to extend the state's Medicaid program to half a million low-income residents under the ACA, officials said. Pennsylvania is the 27th state to broaden Medicaid to include everyone earning up to a third more than the federal poverty level. The agreement makes Corbett the ninth GOP governor to expand the program. Pennsylvania wanted to add work requirements for some beneficiaries and require them to pay premiums. Released details of the deal indicated that work requirements wouldn't be included.
California lawmakers passed a bill (AB 2051) that would shorten wait times for primary care clinics seeking approval to treat Medi-Cal beneficiaries, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. The measure now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). The bill would require the state Department of Health Care Services to:
Many of the approximately four million Californians who will remain uninsured by 2019 could have trouble accessing healthcare as funding for safety-net providers increasingly drops, according to an issue brief by the Greenlining Institute. According to the brief, the uninsured population in California by 2019 is expected to be "very diverse" but not entirely made up of undocumented immigrants. The brief notes that residents could lack coverage because of:
Health News Florida reports that only about one-third of Florida's Medicaid recipients transitioning into managed care statewide chose their own health insurance plans. Consumers received a letter in the mail two months before enrollment and were given at least 30 days to choose an insurance plan. Those who did not choose a plan were automatically enrolled into a plan by state health officials.
Companies that insure Medicaid patients are asking Massachusetts to increase the payments they receive from the state. The health insurers say the deficits are the result of Sovaldi claims and a surge of nearly 190,000 new members assigned to the companies by MassHealth. Insurers say the state did not budget enough money to cover the added costs. Officials say their analysis does not corroborate all of the insurers' claims, but they are expected to propose higher reimbursement rates to the insurers for the fiscal year starting Oct.
The possible resolution of a class-action lawsuit against Florida health and child-welfare officials could mean physicians will receive what they consider to be adequate compensation for treating children of the poor, according to The Miami Herald. The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by pediatricians, dentists and nine children against the AHCA, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health, claimed that Florida violated federal law by providing inadequate Medicaid services to children, and that their care had been hampered by low Medicaid payments to doctors.
A legislative committee in Texas is examining market-based alternatives to providing low-income residents with healthcare since the state has rejected the expansion of Medicaid. Members of the state Senate HHS committee plan to discuss alternatives to the ACA. Some ideas include expanding Medicaid block grants and waivers. Lawmakers are seeking to hold health costs in-check while improving access to care. Texas has the nation's highest rate of uninsured residents. A recent White House report found that Medicaid expansion would have covered an additional 1.2 million Texans by 2016.
This New York Times piece looks at how Medicaid enrollment increased in many states that chose not to accept federal funds. CMS data showed that enrollment jumped in most states that did not expand their programs, including Georgia (16%), Montana (10%), Idaho (9%) and Florida (7%). Altogether, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in the states that didn't make any changes has gone up by 975,000.
Pressure is building on states to go along with the expansion of Medicaid benefits under the ACA as studies and reports from healthcare companies point out differences between states treating more poor Americans and those that aren't. Tenet Healthcare's CEO said the health system benefited from a significant migration of patients from uninsured into Medicaid with a 54% decline in uninsured admissions and a 27% decline in uninsured outpatient visits.
More than seven million Americans have gained health coverage through government programs including Medicaid since enrollment in Obamacare health insurance was launched Oct. 1. The HHS said 7.2 million new participants in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program by June brought overall Medicaid enrollment to 66 million people. The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 states under the ACA.
This Urban Institute report found that in states not expanding Medicaid, 6.7 million residents will remain uninsured in 2016 as a result. These states are foregoing a combined $423.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2013 to 2022, lessening economic activity and job growth, according to the report. Twenty-four states have not expanded their Medicaid programs so far.
The federal government has granted a three-year extension to the Medicaid Managed Care Program in Florida, which requires that almost all Florida Medicaid beneficiaries enroll in managed-care plans. The initial shift towards a statewide managed-care system in Medicaid was approved by lawmakers in 2011 and as of this month, nearly 3 million people are set to be enrolled in the program. This decision also includes financial relief for hospitals that depend on a "Low Income Pool" program to pay for treatment of poor uninsured patients.