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Authorities say Target pharmacies knowingly and routinely enrolled MassHealth beneficiaries in the auto-refill program, then billed MassHealth. Meanwhile, in other Medicaid news, more conservative states are starting to explore expansion as it becomes popular among voters.
Since the Trump administration has approved work requirements in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, it’s likely that Virginia’s will also get the green light. Medicaid news comes out of Ohio and Texas, as well.
The federal waiver requires many adults who have joined Medicaid through the health law’s expansion to report at least 100 hours per month of work, job training, education or volunteer activities. The requirement in other states has been 80 hours. In Florida, some advocates are concerned about a change to the look-back period that applies to coverage for new Medicaid members.
The state lawmakers passed an extensive package of bills as they seek to rack up wins before Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul take up their positions in a few weeks. Meanwhile, in Kansas, Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a Democrat, says she wants to roll back a work requirement and other cash assistance rules for government aid.
The group argued that expanding Medicaid to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act has had the unintended consequence of causing healthy, single adults to leave the labor force or reduce their work hours to keep or qualify for Medicaid benefits. Meanwhile, a left-leaning think tank warns that millions of children could lose health insurance because of the “public charge” policy.
Because of the policy that expands the definition of public charge to immigrants receiving government aid, legal residents have stopped using school programs, food subsidies, housing vouchers and health clinics for which they are eligible, the city’s lawsuit says. It hurts Baltimore’s mission to welcome immigrants and increases long-term expenses as Baltimore deals with a sicker and less-educated community, according to officials.
But CMS Administrator Seema Verma says there’s no plan to slow implementation of the work requirement rules. Since June, more than 12,000 beneficiaries in Arkansas have lost their Medicaid coverage, and thousands more are poised to be dropped next month. Verma thinks it’s “very possible” that people left Medicaid coverage because they found a job or “decided that they didn’t want coverage.” Other Medicaid news comes out of Maine, Kentucky, Georgia and Minnesota.
When Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration changed the system for overseeing health care for more than 600,000 poor and disabled Iowans, he projected it would produce $232 million in savings. A report by the outgoing Republican state auditor found that only $126 million has been saved. Meanwhile, Democrats, who are troubled by what they see as deteriorating care under the new system, question if the state really saved anything. Medicaid news comes out of Virginia, Tennessee and Kansas, as well.
In the same election that will put Democrat Laura Kelly in the governor’s office, Kansas voters also elected a more conservative state Legislature. While before, the governor stood in the way of expansion, this time it might be lawmakers who block the way. Medicaid news comes out of Maine, Kentucky and Minnesota, as well.
Earlier this year, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s work requirements waiver ruling the government did not adequately consider how the plan would impact people who receive coverage. The judge’s ruling restarted the application process, which was completed Tuesday. Work requirement proposals have drawn criticism as advocates worry poor families will lose their health care. In Arkansas, thousands have been dropped from the Medicaid rolls in the months since the rules were enacted.
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In October, an additional 3,815 beneficiaries lost their coverage and joined thousands of others who have failed to report their work requirements. There are also 6,002 people with two strikes against them who are at risk for losing coverage next month.
Advocates are worried that the policy–which would allow officials to weigh an immigrant’s use of aid such as Medicaid when deciding green cards–is already discouraging legal immigrants from seeking needed health care.
“What if we gave organizations more flexibility so they could pay a beneficiary’s rent if they were in unstable housing, or make sure that a diabetic had access to, and could afford, nutritious food?” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. The proposals are part of a broader strategy in health care to address social determinants that impact patients’ wellbeing. Meanwhile, Medicaid programs are a driving force behind rising state spending.
While Medicaid expansion was the big winner in the midterms, states have been taking up the reins on other issues such as prescription drug prices, as well. With a split Congress, that might be where most of the movement is in the next two year. Meanwhile, Gov.-elect Laura Kelly’s decisive five-point win in Kansas has made longtime Medicaid expansion advocates optimistic that they can get it signed into law during the 2019 legislative session after years of opposition from Kelly’s Republican predecessors. News comes out of Louisiana, as well.
Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly and Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers, both Democrats who flipped seats from Republicans, vowed in their campaigns to expand Medicaid coverage. They might be aided by the momentum of ballot success in other states, but they do face headwinds in their legislatures. News on Medicaid comes out of North Carolina and Florida, as well.
Thousands of people have been dropped from Arkansas’ Medicaid rolls after failing to report their work hours, and thousands more are poised to fall off in the coming months. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) has recommended the government hit “pause” until any potential kinks can be worked out.
A ballot initiative to fund Medicaid expansion with a tobacco tax failed in Montana on Tuesday. The expansion will expire in the state in June 2019, unless the legislature finds another way to fund it.
This election delivered wins on more liberal ballot measures even in states where voters elected politicians with deeply conservative views. The dissonance could show a way forward for advocates looking to focus on policy rather than politics. “Americans want everyone to make a living wage and be able to go to the doctor when they got sick,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project. “Ballot initiatives shows there’s an agenda that can bring people together across party lines.”
Approved ballot measures in red states Idaho, Nebraska and Utah were successful in circumventing the states’ legislatures, which have blocked Medicaid expansion. Those three states will join Virginia, which approved expansion last spring, and Maine, where voters approved an expansion last year that has been blocked by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The incoming Democratic governor, Janet Mills, says she will let the measure go forward. In all, nearly 800,000 people could be newly eligible for the program across the five states.