Medicaid expansion is back on the ballot.
Organizers in Utah submitted signatures on Monday to put an initiative expanding Medicaid on the state’s ballot in November. They got 165,000 signatures, or about 50,000 more than they needed.
State legislators are actually pushing a limited form of Medicaid expansion, but, as we covered before, the Trump administration seems unlikely to greenlight that proposal. The ballot initiative being submitted today would be a clean version of expansion
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President Donald Trump signed a broad executive order urging a revamp of federal government aid programs Tuesday, invigorating a contentious debate from which Republicans hope to gain momentum before the November elections.
The executive order lays out broad principles for overhauling government aid programs to require that more participants prove they are working or trying to find jobs, senior administration officials said. It also instructs federal agencies to propose changes to the programs they oversee and craft new regulations if necessary. The order is primarily aimed at programs such as food stamps, which covers about 43 million Americans, Medicaid, which covers 74 million people, and housing programs, an official said.
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The White House on Friday cleared the CMS to scale back efforts to evaluate Indiana’s conservative approach to Medicaid expansion. The move could prevent the agency from gathering adequate data to determine if the state’s method of expansion harmed access to care.
Some feel that even with a scaled-back study, the CMS could still glean pertinent information from Indiana about the impact its expansion approach has had on Medicaid beneficiaries.
“Surveys were just one element, and getting rid of them is not enough to make or break an evaluation” said Doug Badger, a senior fellow at the Galen Institute, a conservative think tank.
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California is indeed the Golden State where Medicaid is concerned. The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that, by exploiting Obamacare’s expansion of the program, California has enrolled hundreds of thousands of ineligible adults in Medicaid. Consequently, the state has bilked the federal government out of more than $1 billion in funding to which the state was not entitled. Indeed, these figures probably understate the amount of money that California officials have fraudulently extracted from the taxpayers. The OIG sampled a mere six-month period, from October 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, to arrive at its damning assessment.
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California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ chief watchdog.
In a Feb. 21 report, the HHS’ inspector general estimated that California spent $738.2 million on 366,078 expansion beneficiaries who were ineligible. It spent an additional $416.5 million for 79,055 expansion enrollees who were “potentially” ineligible, auditors found.
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As the debate continues in Virginia over whether to expand Medicaid, it is crucial to look at what the outcome has been for other states that have already expanded their programs. Thirty-one states have taken this step under the provisions laid out in the Affordable Care Act. The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility to able-bodied adults below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and covered 100 percent of the cost of the expansion enrollees for the initial period. That percentage declines, and by the year 2020 the federal government will only cover 90 percent of the cost of expansion enrollees. With funding after that unclear, residents of Virginia will face an unknown future of Medicaid. Given the facts staring back at us, why would any Virginian support expanded coverage?
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Arkansas recently became the third state to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement a work requirement for Medicaid adults. The hand-delivered approval follows the department’s endorsement of work requirements submitted by Kentucky and Indiana and comes ahead of action on similar requests from a host of other states, including Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, and Wisconsin. Arkansas’s request was among several proposed amendments to the state’s Section 1115 demonstration waiver for its Arkansas Works program, including a proposed income eligibility cap at 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) for the expansion population, which HHS did not approve at this time.
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In 1981, Congress created the home and community-based (HCBS) waiver program. These waivers allow states, if they choose, to extend home- and community-based Medicaid services to individuals who would otherwise qualify for care in a nursing home or institution. Essentially, these waivers allow truly needy individuals on Medicaid to receive additional care they need without being institutionalized.
The waiver programs are comprised of individuals with severe intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and mental illnesses, among other debilitating conditions.
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Arkansas on Monday became the third U.S. state to require that Medicaid recipients work or participate in employment activities as a condition of receiving health insurance as the Trump administration continues to approve state requests that fundamentally change the 50-year-old program.
Arkansas’s waiver would require beneficiaries to work or participate in job training or job search activities for at least 80 hours per month as a condition of receiving Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Those who fail to meet the requirements for three months of a plan year will not be able to re-enroll until the following plan year.
Proposed changes to Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion program would reduce its cost by more than $356 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to state Department of Human Services estimates.
The estimates include $307 million in federal and state funds saved by restricting eligibility to people with incomes of up to the poverty level, instead of 138 percent of the poverty level.
Imposing a work requirement on many of those remaining on the program would save an additional $49.4 million, the department calculated.
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