KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Mass. Considers Banning Trusts Some Seniors On Medicaid Use To Pay For Extra Care

The state is considering altering Medicaid eligibility requirements for residents older than 65 who have special-needs trust accounts and require nursing home care and other health services. Outlets also report on Medicaid news in New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

Boston Globe: Medicaid May Bar Seniors’ Trust Funds To Pay For Extras
Hundreds of disabled seniors in Massachusetts may soon face a daunting choice if they want services under the state’s Medicaid program: Ditch the trusts they set up to pay for extras, such as dental work and a home health aide, or risk losing public benefits. MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid health insurance program for nearly 2 million low-income and disabled residents, is considering changes in eligibility requirements that would make it harder for residents older than 65 to establish special-needs trust accounts and still qualify for nursing home care and other health services from state and federal government agencies. (Fernandes, 1/3)

Sante Fe New Mexican: State Cancels Planned Medicaid Rate Cuts
The New Mexico Human Services Department is canceling planned cuts in rates paid to behavioral health care providers treating Medicaid patients. The reimbursement rate cuts were set to go in effect Jan. 1. But state Human Services officials reversed course earlier this month on cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain psychiatric and therapeutic services, according to a memo Human Services sent to providers. (Horwath, 12/31)

Columbus Dispatch: Report Cites Gains From Ohio's Medicaid Expansion
With President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans planning to repeal Obamacare, Gov. John Kasich’s administration released a report Friday saying that Ohio’s 2014 Medicaid expansion has improved the health and reduced financial hardships for hundreds of thousands of poor Ohioans. The analysis, requested by the General Assembly, found that among the 702,000 who gained coverage as of May 2016: 75 percent were uninsured before becoming eligible for Medicaid, (Candisky, 12/31)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Asks Judge To Halt Texas Medicaid Cuts
Planned Parenthood has asked a federal judge to stop Texas from cutting it from the state's Medicaid program, which the nation's largest abortion provider says would reduce health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women. The request to U.S. District Sam Sparks was filed late Friday in Austin and is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed last year. (Weber, 12/31)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Mental Clinic Scammed Medicaid, Feds Say
A Milwaukee clinic turned urine samples into liquid gold, cheating Medicaid out of millions of dollars by billing for duplicative and unnecessary drug screening tests, federal prosecutors say. In fact, from 2011 to 2015, Acacia Mental Health Clinic LLC, 5228 W. Fond du Lac Ave., captured 99% of all Medicaid payments to mental health and substance abuse counseling providers in Wisconsin, according to a new government lawsuit that aims to claw back some of the money. ... The case highlights a local aspect of a national problem that grew alongside the opioid epidemic. At drug abuse treatment centers, operators increasingly turned to questionable urine screens as a revenue source. (Vielmetti, 1/1)

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