Health Beat: Kaiser Foundation Report Examines State Medicaid Efforts

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 45 views 

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No two words could define this year’s legislative session more than these: “private option.”

The program, which uses Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s state insurance exchange, first was passed by the Legislature in 2013 and then was reauthorized in 2014. More than 200,000 Arkansans have health coverage because of it, and the state is receiving $1.3 billion in federal funds this fiscal year. But opponents fear that long-term costs are unsustainable. It’s still unknown if supporters have the votes to continue it.

Talk Business & Politics has prepared a “private option primer” to break down some of the numbers behind the controversial program.

What are the demographic characteristics of enrollees? How many federal dollars are coming into Arkansas in fiscal year 2015 because of the private option? What waivers have been approved and are more on the way? Read more at this link.

More thoughts from Gov. Asa Hutchinson at Tuesday’s press conference give clues as to where he may be heading with his Thursday speech at UAMS. Certainly, Hutchinson will address the private option’s fate, but he’s clearly looking at much broader health care reform.

Hutchinson said he does not view the tax cuts passed in 2013 contingent on the fate of the private option.

“Don’t presuppose my position on the private option based upon this draft budget that we have. First of all, I have always separated the private option debate and funding mechanism with the tax cuts,” he said. “I delinked them a long time ago.”

Hutchinson’s idea of broadening the health care debate could involve eliminating the title “private option” and rebranding his overall approach as something new. Could this involve capping enrollment and finding a way to wean the state off the federal dollars involved or curtailing the state’s projected tab when it picks up more of the costs?

“Whether you’re for or against the private option, no one envisions an immediate cliff. Most recognize that there’s got to be a transition,” he said.

He has previously suggested that a work component needs to be tied to the private option – a move other states have sought to implement. Hutchinson has quoted more than once that 40% of private option recipients have no income.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has detailed survey results regarding Medicaid, Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Health Care Act for all 50 states. As of Jan. 1, 2015, 28 states – like Arkansas – have expanded Medicaid to the 138% federal poverty level, while the remaining states have not. Some keys areas studied in the report and a few takeaways:

  • Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children and pregnant women remains strong.
  • Although eligibility levels for adults markedly increased over pre-ACA standards as a result of the Medicaid expansion, they remain well below those of children and pregnant women.
  • States have achieved major progress implementing the modernized and streamlined enrollment and renewal processes.
  • States have established eligibility verification policies that seek to rely on electronic data and minimize paperwork for individuals.
  • States’ choices with regard to the integration of their Medicaid and Marketplace eligibility determination systems affect coordination across coverage programs.

Access the full report at this link.