States Officials Wrestle With Medicaid Expansion Decisions, State Reforms

Many are exploring whether expanding Medicaid eligibility under the health law would lead to savings or increased costs.

CQ HealthBeat: Decision Time For Medicaid
All but one of the 50 states had joined Medicaid by 1972, seven years after the federal-state health insurance program for America's poor was created. Wary both of having to follow federal requirements and of the potential stress on its own budget, Arizona held out for 10 more years until the lure of federal health care dollars persuaded state officials to implement a program. The concerns about Medicaid expressed by Arizona decades ago have persisted not only for that state but also for others across the country, and they have been exacerbated by the recession and the economy's tepid recovery. Medicaid enrollment climbed by almost 4 million people from December 2008 to December 2009, the largest one-year jump since the late 1960s, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (Attias, 10/15).

The Detroit News: Report: State Could Save $1B By Expanding Medicaid Eligibility
Michigan could save $1 billion over 10 years and provide health insurance to 600,000 residents if it expands Medicaid eligibility as allowed by the national health care reform law, according to a report to be released today. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in June, but one provision was not upheld: penalizing states that opt out of the laws expanding Medicaid. That means the decision to expand Medicaid eligibility to other residents has been left up to the states. Michigan has not yet made a decision on how to proceed, but some lawmakers have proposed a bill to ban Medicaid expansion (Kozlowski, 10/15).

The Texas Tribune: Would Medicaid Expansion Bankrupt Or Save Texas Budget
Gov. Rick Perry has compared Texas Medicaid to the Titanic, but economists and business advocates from both sides of the political aisle say Texas shouldn’t let the program sink just yet. They argue the political rhetoric against the federal government should be thrown overboard and Texas should expand Medicaid under federal health care reforms because it is a practical decision for the state budget (Aaronson, 10/16).

Kansas Health Institute News: Go/No-Go Date Looms This Week For KanCare
Several developments this week will help officials in the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback decide if their KanCare Medicaid reforms will move forward on the original timeline of a Jan. 1 launch or whether the program will get pushed to a later, yet-to-be-decided date. A few things are scheduled to happen over the course of the next five days that will shape that decision, according to Brownback officials (Shields, 10/15).

The Associated Press: Ohio Officials Spread Word On New Medicaid Benefit
State officials are spreading the word about a plan to better coordinate care for Medicaid beneficiaries with severe mental illness who also face chronic medical issues, such as heart disease or diabetes. Under the new service, providers would partner with doctors, pharmacists, social workers and others to better address patients' mental and physical health needs (Sanner, 10/16).

Also in the news -

The Washington Post: D.C. Won't Renew Chartered Health Plan Contract, Officials Confirm
The District is moving to end its relationship with the health-care company owned by embattled campaign financier Jeffrey E. Thompson after auditors discovered significant financial irregularities in its books. Multiple senior officials confirmed that Chartered Health Plan will not have its contract renewed to manage care for low-income city residents, its only significant source of business, and that insurance regulators are considering a move to place the company in government receivership (DeBonis, 10/15).

The Texas Tribune: Lawmakers Want Answers On Dental, Orthodontic Fraud
As new details on Medicaid dental and orthodontic fraud investigations emerged at a House Public Health hearing on Monday, lawmakers warned that state agencies should not shirk responsibility for allowing the payment of millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicaid claims. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, that agency's Office of Inspector General, and the Attorney General’s Office recently formed a joint task force to crack down on Medicaid dental and orthodontic fraud (Aaronson, 10/15).

Kansas Health Institute News: Case Managers Encouraged To Apply For MCO Jobs
Across Kansas, Medicaid-funded programs that help the disabled, brain-injured and frail elderly live in community settings and avoid expensive moves to nursing homes are encouraging their front-line case managers to go to work for the KanCare managed care companies (Ranney, 10/15).

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