KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Highlights Recent Developments in State Medicaid Programs

The following summarizes Medicaid developments in Kansas, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

  • Kansas: A state Legislative committee on Nov. 22 recommended some changes to the Medicaid program that are intended to save money, the Kansas City Star reports. The proposals, which do not include program or eligibility cuts, suggest creating an inspector general's office to spot Medicaid fraud and inefficiency; establishing a civil False Claims Act that gives the state an added way to recover fraudulently used Medicaid dollars; and encouraging the use of home- and community-based services to keep more Medicaid beneficiaries out of nursing homes. The proposals now go to the full Legislature for consideration (Klepper, Kansas City Star, 11/23).

  • Massachusetts: A health care bill recently approved by the state Senate contains a proposal that could give elderly and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries an increased opportunity to get home care or small group housing care, instead of nursing home care, the Boston Globe reports. The state currently places Medicaid beneficiaries who need long-term care automatically in nursing homes. The proposal would require that Medicaid beneficiaries be screened prior to admission in a nursing home to verify whether proper care can be obtained elsewhere (Greenberger, Boston Globe, 11/24). In other state Medicaid news, two dozen state lawmakers are supporting a proposal that would allow same-sex couples to receive the same government health benefits as married couples. Supporters say the proposal would protect gay couples if they have to sell their homes and assets when one of them enrolls in MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, to pay for nursing home care. While the federal government does not recognize gay marriages, Massachusetts might be able to circumvent federal funding rules by using only state dollars to pay for benefits for gay couples. Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has not taken a position on the proposal (Greenberger, Boston Globe, 11/25).

  • Pennsylvania: A panel is expected to meet Dec. 14 to determine whether certain medications to treat hemophilia should be included on the state's Medicaid preferred drug list, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. If the panel recommends limiting hemophilia medications and state officials approve the move, Pennsylvania will become the first state to do so, according to the Post-Gazette. While state officials say that hemophilia patients will not be denied access to necessary medications, opponents say that changes could mean that hemophilia patients will have to obtain their medications through a prior authorization process. Opponents say prior authorizations can "cause delays and lead to serious health risks," according to the Post-Gazette. The National Hemophilia Foundation and 15 state senators sent letters to Gov. Ed Rendell (D) explaining their concerns (Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/25).
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