KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Middle-Class Early Retirees May Be Eligible For Medicaid In 2014

As a result of the health law, many early retirees may in 2014 be eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor.  This expansion, which is being termed a "glitch" and is drawing significant Republican reaction, could mean that early retirees with household incomes up to $64,000 would qualify.

The Associated Press: AP Exclusive: Medicaid For The Middle Class?
President Barack Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/21).

CQ HealthBeat: Future Medicaid Eligibility Rules Raise Concerns
Republicans are pouncing on a concern raised by the Medicare chief actuary that in 2014 middle-class early retirees may become eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, because of the way the program's eligibility standards will change. In 2014, Medicaid is scheduled to expand to cover more people, and all states will have to use a national eligibility standard. Currently the rules vary by state. The health care overhaul says that starting in 2014 a person's eligibility will be determined based on his or her modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) - a calculation that excludes some Social Security benefits. Applicants will be eligible if they earn 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less. This year, the federal poverty limit for a couple is $14,710 (Adams, 6/21).

National Journal: Glitch Exposed In Obama Health Care Plan
An anomaly in the complex Obama health care plan may mean that 3 million additional people could qualify for Medicare benefits when the law takes effect in 2014. According to number crunchers gauging the new system's cost for the Health and Human Services department, the glitch means that early retirees with a household income of up to $64,000 would qualify for the nearly free government health care program intended for those below the poverty line. "I don't generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense," Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster told the Associated Press, which equates the situation with "allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps," (Estes, 6/22). 

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