KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Federal Officials Approve Alabama’s Plan To Revamp Medicaid Program

The state is seeking to set up regional managed care systems to handle the health care program for low-income residents. New outlets also report on Medicaid news in Minnesota, Washington and North Carolina.

AL. com: Medicaid: Feds Approve Test Drive Of New Way In Alabama To Pay For It
Alabama has received permission from the federal government to test drive a different plan to provide health care through Medicaid to the one million mostly poor Alabamians who depend on it. Gov. Robert Bentley announced today that the state has received a waiver from the feds that will allow Alabama to deliver Medicaid services differently. The waiver will allow the state to transition from a fee-for-service model to one closer to managed care through entities called regional care organizations or RCOs. RCOs are locally-led managed care systems that will ultimately provide healthcare services to most Medicaid enrollees at an established cost under the supervision and approval of the Alabama Medicaid Agency. (Dean, 2/9)

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser: Feds Give Alabama Go-Ahead For Medicaid Changes
The federal government gave Alabama the go-ahead to change the delivery of Medicaid and move to a managed care system advocates hope will control cost growth and lead to better outcomes. Gov. Robert Bentley, flanked by Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar and legislative leaders Tuesday, said the state had received an 1115 waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which administers the Medicaid program. The waiver will allow the state to create 11 regional care organizations (RCOs), which will enroll Medicaid patients with the goal of encouraging preventive care and cutting costs. (Lyman, 2/9)

Minnesota Public Radio: Sheriffs, Franken Criticize Medicaid Gaps For Jail Inmates
Sheriffs organizations in Minnesota and elsewhere criticized policies that allow those who are able to post bail maintain Medicaid coverage, while others who remain in custody lose it. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise access to Medicaid for pretrial detainees who've been arrested but not tried or convicted. (Feshir, 2/9)

Northwest Public Radio: Ninety One Thousand Apple Health Medicaid Clients Affected By Data Breach
[Washington] State Health Care officials say they'll be notifying 91,000 Medicaid clients they've been affected by a data breach. Officials with the Washington State Health Care Authority today said they discovered that the private information of 91,000 Apple Health clients was mishandled by two employees. The information includes clients’ Social Security numbers, dates of birth, Apple Health client ID numbers and private health information. (Henderson, 2/9)

The Seattle Times: 91,000 State Medicaid Clients Warned Of Data Breach
More than 91,000 people enrolled in Washington state’s Apple Health Medicaid program are being notified that their medical records may have been handled improperly, officials said Tuesday. Two state employees — a woman who worked for the state Health Care Authority (HCA) and her brother, who worked for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) — apparently exchanged emails for nearly two years that contained private health information from Medicaid clients, said Steve Dotson, HCA risk manager. (Aleccia, 2/9)

Winston-Salem Journal: N.C. Medicaid Program Projected To Be Under Budget For Third Straight Fiscal Year
The state’s Medicaid program is on pace to come in under budget for the third consecutive fiscal year, state health officials told legislators Tuesday. Trey Sutten, the finance director for the state Medicaid program, said the program was $181 million, or 9.3 percent, under budget through Dec. 31. Medicaid covers about 1.9 million North Carolina residents and is a $14 billion a year program. Sutten said there are three factors for the current budget status: lower service consumption by beneficiaries; flat enrollment levels being below budget projections; and lower costs driven by changes in population profile, clinical policy and legislation. (Craver, 2/9)

The Associated Press: North Carolina Medicaid $181M Under Budget At Year Midpoint
North Carolina's Medicaid finances are continuing to run under budget thanks to essentially flat enrollment growth and less-than-anticipated medical expenses and use of services. The Division of Medical Assistance told a General Assembly oversight committee Tuesday state spending on Medicaid was $181 million below the nearly $2 billion set aside for the first six months of the fiscal year ending Dec. 31. (2/9)

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