Archive for Medicaid

 

Trading Loan Forgiveness for Serving Medicaid Patients

The state of California is paying off some doctors’ medical school debts in exchange for a commitment to care for Medicaid patients.

Under a new state program, physicians and dentists can see their medical debt eliminated or greatly reduced in exchange for a five-year commitment during which at least 30 percent of their patients are served by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

The state expects to spend $340 million in this manner in the coming year, with the money coming from Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue.  That measure included a $2 tax increase on every pack of cigarettes sold in the state.

California has traditionally had difficulty finding doctors to serve Medi-Cal patients because the state’s payments for serving those patients are especially low.  Compounding this problem is that more than half of Californians who attend medical school leave the state to do so and the state has done little to increase the number of doctors trained in its medical schools.

Learn more about what California is doing to increase the number of doctors who serve its Medicaid population in the Los Angeles Times article “California doesn’t have enough doctors. To recruit them, the state is paying off medical school

CMS Proposes Easing Medicaid Access Protections

States would have to do less to ensure access to Medicaid-covered services for their Medicaid population under a new regulation proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In 2015, CMS required states to track their Medicaid fee-for-service payments and submit them to the federal government as part of a process to ensure that Medicaid payments were sufficient to ensure access to care for eligible individuals.  Now, CMS proposes rescinding this requirement, writing in a news release that

This proposed rule is designed to help streamline federal oversight of access to care requirements that protect Medicaid beneficiaries.  CMS anticipates that the proposed rule would, if finalized, result in overall cost savings for State partners that could be redirected to better serve the needs of their beneficiaries.

The proposed regulation itself explains that

While we believe the process described in the current regulatory text is a valuable tool for states to use to demonstrate the sufficiency of provider payment rates, we believe mandating states to collect the specific information as described excessively constrains state freedom to administer the program in the manner that is best for the state and Medicaid beneficiaries in the state.

CMS also notes that …

The Role of Medicaid in Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Medicaid can play a major role in addressing the social determinants of health.

Or so argues a recent post on the Health Affairs Blog.

According to the post, social determinants of health – income, education, decent housing, access to food, and more – significantly influence the health and well-being of individuals – including low-income individuals who have adequate access to quality health care.  Medicaid, the post maintains, can play a major role in addressing social determinants of health.

The post outlines the role state Medicaid programs can play in addressing social determinants of health; describes tools for such action such as section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waivers; offers examples of efforts currently under way in some states; and presents suggestions for steps the federal government can take to facilitate such efforts.

Learn more from the Health Affairs Blog post “For An Option To Address Social Determinants Of Health, Look To Medicaid.”

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Study Finds Surprise in Sources of Medicaid, CHIP Growth

While enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP has been greatest among low-income families working full-time for small businesses, growth in Medicaid and CHIP among low-income families employed full-time by big businesses has been rising faster in recent years.

According to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment among low-income families employed full-time by large companies rose from 45 percent to 69 percent between 2008 and 2016.  The driving force behind this growing reliance on public insurance appears to be the shift of health insurance costs from companies to employees:  employee share of health insurance premiums rose 57 percent during that same period, leaving many families unable to afford even employer-subsidized health insurance.

Learn more about the growing Medicaid and CHIP participation rates among different economic groups in the Health Affairs report “Growth Of Public Coverage Among Working Families In The Private Sector.”

CMS Outlines New Medicaid Program Integrity Activities

The federal government will introduce a number of initiatives to combat Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse in the coming months.

In an article on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ blog, CMS administrator Seema Verma outlined her agency’s major Medicaid program integrity efforts of the past year, including:

  • Oversight of state Medicaid claiming and program integrity
  • Disallowing unallowable claims of federal funding
  • Increased audits and oversight
  • Data sharing and partnerships
  • Education, technical assistance, and collaboration
  • Reducing improper payments

Initiatives to be introduced in the coming months include (as described in the blog post):

  • A proposed comprehensive update to Medicaid’s fiscal accountability regulations, to increase states’ accountability for supplemental payments. The update includes additional state reporting, clearer financial definitions, and stronger federal guidance to ensure that states use supplemental payments properly.
  • A proposed regulation to further strengthen the integrity of the Medicaid eligibility determination process, including enhanced requirements around verification, monitoring changes in beneficiary circumstances, and eligibility redetermination.
  • Additional guidance on the Medicaid Managed Care Final Rule from 2016 to further state implementation and compliance with program integrity safeguards, such as reporting overpayments and possible fraud.
  • Release of improvements to the Medicaid and CHIP Scorecard—a dashboard of program measures that