CMS Nixes Medicaid Work Requirements In Arizona, Indiana
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services alerted both states on Friday that the agency is rescinding previous approval by the Trump administration to add work or job training rules for some Medicaid beneficiaries. In related news, Georgia is also delaying its plans to institute such requirements.
Medicaid Work Rules In Arizona, Indiana Scrapped By CMS
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled the plug on Arizona's and Indiana's plans to require some Medicaid beneficiaries to work, attend job training or participate in other activities to keep their health coverage, according to letters the federal agency sent the two states Friday. The waivers President Donald Trump's administration approved were unlikely to promote the objectives of Medicaid, which federal courts have ruled is to provide health insurance, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure wrote in the letters. The pandemic also presents challenges to the Medicaid population that make work requirements especially burdensome, she wrote. At this time, beneficiaries may lack access to economic opportunities, transportation and affordable childcare as the public health emergency gradually winds down. Imposing a work requirement under these circumstances could lead to unfair benefit losses, she wrote. (Brady, 6/25)
Georgia Delays Medicaid Expansion After Pushback From Washington
Georgia will delay the rollout of its limited Medicaid expansion, originally planned for July 1, until at least August 1, according to a letter the state Department of Community Health sent to Washington dated Thursday. The delay comes after the plan has come under scrutiny by the Biden Administration because of the state’s requirements that beneficiaries either work or attend school or engage in other qualifying activities. In several other states, the administration has already revoked Medicaid work requirements, citing the pandemic and economic environment and saying such rules present barriers to those lacking access to transportation or child care, among other issues. (Hart, 6/26)
In other news from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services —
CMS Doesn't Know If Hospitals Are Ready For The Next Pandemic
CMS can't ensure that hospitals are prepared for emerging infectious disease threats like COVID-19, according to a federal watchdog report released Monday. Although the agency announced in February 2019 that hospitals had to plan for potential outbreaks, CMS can't confirm that all hospitals have updated their emergency preparedness plans during the pandemic because it only inspects them every three to five years, HHS' Office of Inspector General said in its report. That's mainly because CMS can't require accrediting organizations, which inspect about 90% of Medicare and Medicaid-approved hospitals, to carry out more frequent quality and safety surveys or targeted infection control inspections. (Brady, 6/28)
Will Biogen's Alzheimer’s Drug's Cost To Medicare Be Big Or Catastrophic?
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to grant wide-ranging approval to the controversial, pricey new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm will have an eye-popping impact on Medicare finances. The question is exactly how big the impact will be. Estimates of how many seniors on Medicare will actually take Aduhelm, which has a list price of $56,000, vary wildly. Some experts have guessed at relatively low patient interest, around 500,000 people. Biogen, the company behind the drug, has put its target population far higher, around 1 million to 2 million people. (Cohrs and Parker, 6/28)
And in more state Medicaid news —
Missouri Senate Votes To Renew Key Tax For Medicaid Funding
Missouri senators passed a bill to renew a key tax for Medicaid funding early Saturday after hours of debate over coverage of family planning services. The GOP-led Senate voted 28-5 to send the bill to the House. Senators were able to advance the bill after some Republicans joined with Democrats to vote down a proposal that sought to cut off any government money for Planned Parenthood. (6/26)
California Budget Boosts Health Care For Older Immigrants
California will soon pay the health care bills for low-income people 50 and older who are living in the country illegally, part of an expansion of Medicaid that aims to inch the nation’s most populous state toward Democrats’ goal of making sure everyone has health insurance. The new coverage will eventually cost taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year, money that’s part of the new state operating budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders unveiled Friday night. The budget is scheduled for a vote in the state Legislature on Monday, with Newsom likely signing it into law before the state’s fiscal year begins Thursday. (Beam, 6/26)