Things have been happening so quickly of late that I'm getting farther and farther behind on some important healthcare policy developments, particularly at the state level. There are two extremely important Public Option announcements which could be game changers if they make it through the legislative process.
Since I don't have time to do full write-ups on either one right now, I'll just present these summaries:
BLOCK GRANTS FOR MEDICAID — A Trump plan is in the works. Scoop today, behind the firewall right now. https://t.co/2PdVQKPoLH
The Trump administration is plotting a path for Medicaid block grants for states, a longstanding GOP goal to rein in spending on the entitlement program. News from me and @ddiamondhttps://t.co/EPkeqlPiSV
Governor Northam Announces Medicaid Expansion Hits Milestone with More Than 200,000 Enrolled
Virginians can apply at any time of the year
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that more than 200,000 Virginia adults are now enrolled and will have health coverage starting January 1. The achievement marks a major milestone in the Medicaid expansion initiative approved last summer.
“This bipartisan initiative has empowered men and women across the Commonwealth to take an active role in improving their health,” said Governor Northam. “The historic response from our citizens demonstrates the need for access to health coverage that will benefit our families, our communities and Virginia’s economy. I encourage uninsured individuals to learn more about this new health coverage opportunity and to apply today.”
...For many low-income families, the Arkansas experiment has already proved disastrous. More than 12,000 have been purged from the state Medicaid rolls since September — and not necessarily because they’re actually failing to work 80 hours a month, as the state requires.
...McGonigal, like most non-disabled, nonelderly Medicaid recipients, had a job. Full time, too, at a chicken plant.
...More important, McGonigal’s prescription medication — funded by the state’s Medicaid expansion, since his job didn’t come with health insurance — kept his symptoms in check.
A few years back I posted an entry which breaks out the income eligibility thresholds for Medicaid and CHIP in every state. I've reposted an updated version below, which also takes into account Basic Health Plan (BHP) eligibility in Minnesota and New York. This comes directly from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. Note the footnotes at the bottom. The pink cells on the right indicate that the state has not yet expanded Medicaid under the ACA (Maine and Virginia have passed but note implemented doing so, while Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah this November).
As a reminder, here's the 2018 Federal Poverty Level income chart for every state except Alaska and Hawaii (Alaska is 25% higher, Hawaii is 15% higher):
I wrote about this back in April, but even I didn't think much of it at the time--I assumed it was more of a symbolic proposal than anything, or that it would die in committee at most. The details are important, of course, but assuming they make sense, this is exactly the sort of approach I would recommend in trying to gradually transition to some type of universal single-payer like system. The biggest questions I'd want answered are 1) What type of coverage does Medicaid actually have in Nevada? It varies widely from state to state, so if NV's is pretty comprehensive, awesome, but if it's skimpy, that's not very helpful; 2) What sort of premiums/deductibles/co-pays would buy-in enrollees be looking at?; 3) What sort of impact would this have on the state budget?; and most significantly, 4) How many Nevada doctors/hospitals would accept these enrollees? Remember, the reason a significant chunk of healthcare providers don't accept Medicaid patients is because it only reimburses them around 50¢ on the dollar compared to private insurance.
Louisiana officials will have to notify around 60,000 people who are elderly or disabled in early May that they are slated to lose their Medicaid benefits in July as a result of the Legislature's stalemate over the state budget and taxes.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed eliminating some Medicaid programs that provide long-term care in order to cope with a $994 million budget deficit. The governor said he doesn't want to put forward such cuts, but he doesn't have much of a choice given the state's financial restrictions starting July 1, when the new budget year begins.
The Louisiana Department of Health is legally obligated to warn people about what might cuts be coming in July two months ahead of time, even if the programs are ultimately spared.
Alabama, which has refused to expand Medicaid for low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is now proposing to make work a condition of Medicaid eligibility for very low-income parents, stating that it wants to encourage work. Its proposal, however, actually would penalize work: because Alabama hasn’t expanded its program, those who comply with the new requirements by working more hours or finding a job will raise their income above the state’s stringent Medicaid income limits, thereby losing their Medicaid coverage and likely becoming uninsured.
This just in...I used to track the monthly Medicaid/CHIP reports pretty religiously, but the total numbers have actually stayed fairly stable month to month for the past year or so (mainly because the states which expanded Medicaid under the ACA have mostly "maxed out" by now). This should start changing in Maine later this year as they voted to expand the program via ballot initiative last November, and Virginia may end up expanding Medicaid to up to 400,000 people there as well later this year.
In the meantime, here's where things stood as of the end of 2017, according to CMS:
One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act's Three-Legged Stool's "Blue Leg" is the prohibition of caps on annual or lifetime benefits. When you consider that a baby born prematurely or a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy can eat up several million dollars worth of care within a few months, this makes perfect sense. Even a moderately wealthy family can be brought down by high medical costs, and a middle class family can be financially wiped out. If you're lower income, don't even get me started.
Press Release: Governor Cuomo Ensures Medicaid Coverage for DACA Recipients Regardless of Federal Action
If Congress Does Not Act to Protect DACA, New York DACA Recipients will Remain Eligible for State-Funded Medicaid
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy will remain eligible for state-funded Medicaid, regardless of any federal changes to or termination of the program. There are approximately 42,000* DACA recipients in New York, many of whom are at risk of losing their employment-based health insurance if the federal government changes or terminates the program. Under New York law, DACA recipients are considered PRUCOL (Permanently Residing Under Color of Law) and eligible for state-funded Medicaid or CHIP.
CMS announces new policy guidance for states to test community engagement for able-bodied adults
Will support states helping Medicaid beneficiaries improve well-being and achieve self-sufficiency
CMS today announced new guidance that will support state efforts to improve Medicaid enrollee health outcomes by incentivizing community engagement among able-bodied, working-age Medicaid beneficiaries. The policy responds to numerous state requests to test programs through Medicaid demonstration projects under which work or participation in other community engagement activities – including skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving – would be a condition for Medicaid eligibility for able-bodied, working-age adults. This would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to a disability, elderly beneficiaries, children, and pregnant women.
In other words, work requirements for Medicaid expansion enrollees are now officially on the table.
I used to track the monthly Medicaid/CHIP enrollment reports issued by CMS, watching as the numbersrosedramatically thanks to ACA Medicaid expansion.
I pretty much stopped doing that about a year ago, however, since the expansion numbers have mostly petered out. ACA Medicaid expansion actually has continued to climb a bit more since January, and is likely somewhere around 16 million people as of now, but it's also been partly cancelled out by a slight drop in standard Medicaid enrollment as the economy has continued to improve in general. In short, there's little reason to keep writing the same update every month.