Archive for Medicaid

 

Protections Overlooked as Medicaid Reforms are Implemented

In its eagerness to help states introduce changes in their Medicaid programs and reduce administrative burdens, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is ignoring regulatory requirements designed to understand and measure the impact of those changes on beneficiaries.

According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, many states seeking to implement Medicaid work requirements have not projected how many of their beneficiaries would be affected by those requirements nor have they projected how many beneficiaries who are removed from the Medicaid rolls will gain employment after losing their Medicaid benefits.  Both projections are required under Medicaid regulations adopted in 2012, which call for states to assess the anticipated impact of proposed policy changes when seeking federal permission to implement such changes.

Similarly, many states have not proposed commissioning independent assessments to determine the impact of the Medicaid changes they have implemented with CMS’s approval – another requirement under 2012 regulations.

When pressed to explain its failure to enforce these regulations, according to the Times, CMS said only that regulations “…do not require that states provide precise numerical estimates of coverage impacts…” and that it is developing strategies for states to evaluate the impact of new work …

Government More Effective Than Private Sector at Controlling Health Care Costs

For the past dozen years, Medicare and Medicaid have done a better job of controlling rising health care costs than private insurers.

Since 2016, according to a new report from the Urban Institute, private insurers’ costs per enrolled member have risen an average of 4.4 percent a year.  By contrast, Medicare costs have risen an average of 2.4 percent per enrollee and Medicaid costs have risen just 1.6 percent per enrollee.

The primary driver of Medicare cost increases has been prescription drug spending.  For Medicaid the primary driver has been physician services and administrative costs.  For private insurers, the main reason for increasing costs has been spending for hospital care.

Learn more about the differences in cost containment in these different sectors and the implications of those differences in the Urban Institute report “Slow Growth in Medicare and Medicaid Spending Per Enrollee Has Implications for Policy Debates.”

Docs Still Less Likely to Treat Medicaid Patients

Medicaid patients continue to be last in line when it comes to finding doctors willing to serve them.

At least that’s the conclusion drawn in a new analysis prepared by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

According to a presentation delivered at a MACPAC meeting last week:

  • Doctors are less likely to accept new Medicaid patients (70.8 percent) than they are patients insured by Medicare (85.3 percent) or private insurers (90 percent), with a much greater differential in acceptance rates among specialists and psychiatrists.
  • Pediatricians, general surgeons, and ob/gyns have a higher acceptance rate of Medicaid patients than physicians as a whole.
  • Physicians in states with high managed care penetration rates are less likely (66.7 percent) to accept Medicaid patients than physicians in states with low managed care penetration (78.5 percent).
  • There is no meaningful differential in acceptance rates among physicians in Medicaid expansion states and states that did not expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Physician acceptance rates have not changed since adoption of the Affordable Care Act in either Medicaid expansion nor non-Medicaid expansion states.
  • The higher the ratio of Medicaid-to-Medicare physician payments in an individual state, the more likely that physicians in

No Medicaid Expansion=Greater Peril for Rural Hospitals

Rural hospitals located in states that did not expand their Medicaid programs, as authorized by the Affordable Care Act, are at much greater risk of closing than hospitals in states that did expand their Medicaid programs.

According to a Stateline report, most of the 100 rural hospitals that have closed since 2010 and most of the more than 600 rural hospitals that are considered to be in danger of closing now are located in states like Texas, Mississippi, and 12 others that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.

Small rural hospitals that have not closed serve large proportions of uninsured patients, some of whom would have qualified for Medicaid had their state expanded its Medicaid program, providing at least some revenue in return for the services they have provided.  Some of these hospitals, already located in areas that tend to have more low-income residents, more people without health insurance, and more people with health problems, respond to this financial challenge by closing obstetrics units and other expensive services, saving money but reducing access to care in their communities.

Learn more about the financial challenges rural hospitals face and how those challenges now jeopardize their very existence in the Stateline report …

Proposed Public Charge Regulation Causes Confusion in Clinics, Elsewhere

A Trump administration proposal to redefine what constitutes a “public charge” is making life challenging for low-income immigrants and the clinics and other providers to which they turn for Medicaid-covered health care.

The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would establish new criteria for determining whether a person is a “public charge,” based on their participation in certain public programs, and therefore in jeopardy of losing their legal immigration status.

Some Medicaid patients who come to clinics ask if receiving Medicaid-covered services might jeopardize their legal immigration status; others fail to keep appointments or forego seeking care out of fear of the future implications.  Clinic operators walk a fine line between trying to provide the care their patients need and deciding how to answer patients’ questions honestly but without causing undue alarm.  Some choose not to address the issue at all; others seek to answer patient questions but only when asked; while still others provide information about the situation without being asked – doing so, they realize, at the risk of scaring off some of those patients.

Meanwhile, some legal experts believe that a new standard, if adopted, would not be retroactive and consider Medicaid enrollment prior to …