Trump administration OKs Medicaid rollback in Kentucky

The Trump administration has approved an overhaul of Medicaid in Kentucky that for the first time will require some low-income people to work to keep their health coverage, just one day after issuing guidance making it easier for states to seek work requirements.

The administration’s approval represents a seismic philosophical shift for Medicaid, which was created more than 50 years ago to cover the poor. The Kentucky proposal developed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin will force some poor adults to work approximately 20 hours per week to retain their benefits.

At the same time, the Trump administration greenlighted a host of other conservative policies, including new mandated payments from enrollees and coverage lockouts, which will significantly roll back coverage protections in Kentucky’s Medicaid program. Those changes will result in about 95,000 enrollees being forced off the program, Kentucky estimates.

“Kentucky is leading the nation in this reform," Bevin said at Continue reading “Trump administration OKs Medicaid rollback in Kentucky”

Trump paves the way for states to impose Medicaid work requirements

The Trump administration took a major step Thursday to let states establish the first-ever work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

The policy guidance is the most concrete development yet toward achieving goal of tying Medicaid benefits to employment — a long-time conservative goal that has never been permitted since the health care entitlement program for the poor was created 52 years ago.

CMS in its letter to state Medicaid directors outlined the criteria it would use to approve state employment proposals that would require able-bodied, working-age Medicaid enrollees to get a job or participate in a related activity like job training for at least 20 hours a week in order to keep their health coverage. CMS Administrator Seema Verma has made it clear from the moment she took office last year that the Trump administration will approve such proposals, but requests from nearly a dozen conservative states have stalled with federal Continue reading “Trump paves the way for states to impose Medicaid work requirements”

Medicaid expansion fight looms after Virginia statehouse drawing

A showdown over Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion pitting Republican lawmakers against Virginia’s newly elected governor is almost certain following the GOP victory in a drawing to decide control of the state’s House of Delegates.

The expected fight in a purple state demonstrates the law’s staying power even as a Republican president and Congress work to undo it.

Gov.-elect Ralph Northam campaigned heavily on expanding the state’s Medicaid program and has made it a top priority. But Democrats’ inability to gain a 50-50 split in the state’s lower legislative chamber on Thursday means they will need Republican defectors to back a plan, as well as figure out how to pay for its share of costs. Republicans also maintain a narrow 21-19 majority in the state Senate.

“I think there is a real possibility, because you’re talking about one or two people in each House,” University of Virginia politics expert Larry Sabato Continue reading “Medicaid expansion fight looms after Virginia statehouse drawing”

Children’s health funding hangs in the balance as Congress leaves town

Congress is likely to depart Washington this week approving just enough money for children’s health insurance through March and leaving families and governors wondering what’s next.

Only days after clearing a massive tax reform bill along party lines, Republicans are still trying to figure out how to keep the government open past Friday, with hopes of including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers roughly 9 million low- and middle-income kids. So far, Republican and Democratic sources say they don’t expect to be able to attach more than six months of CHIP funding, with three of those months retroactive to when Congress let funding lapse, on Sept. 30.

States would welcome the patch but warn that they still could be forced to shut down their CHIP programs or freeze enrollment in the near future without a more permanent source of dollars.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have pledged to Continue reading “Children’s health funding hangs in the balance as Congress leaves town”

State officials panicked over children’s health program

Families are becoming increasingly panicked about children losing health insurance without new funding from Congress, state officials warned Wednesday as a new report showed nearly 2 million kids could be dropped from coverage next month.

Roughly 1.9 million children across the country could lose insurance in January if Congress fails to renew Children’s Health Insurance Program funding, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Another 1 million could lose coverage by the end of February if the congressional stalemate drags on.

“We’re in a terrible situation right now,” Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, said on a call with reporters. More than 68,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia could lose CHIP coverage without a funding extension.

Federal funds for CHIP, which covers roughly 9 million low-income children and pregnant women, expired on Continue reading “State officials panicked over children’s health program”

How blue states might save Obamacare’s markets

The looming demise of Obamacare’s individual mandate is spurring talks in a handful of blue states about enacting their own coverage requirements, as state officials and health care advocates fear repeal will roil their insurance markets.

Republicans in Congress are poised to kill off the individual mandate in their sweeping tax overhaul, knocking out one of Obamacare’s most unpopular features — but one that health experts have said is essential to making the law’s insurance marketplaces function.

Blue state officials, who have been working to protect their insurance markets from the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle the health law, are beginning to grapple with strategies for preserving coverage. Those officials — in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and elsewhere — aren’t ruling out a state-level requirement that residents must obtain health insurance.

But even in the most Obamacare-friendly states, trying to implement an individual mandate could be politically risky, particularly in Continue reading “How blue states might save Obamacare’s markets”

Battered by Trump, Obamacare triumphs at the polls

Obamacare made a comeback in Tuesday’s elections, its strongest show of support since President Donald Trump was elected and the GOP spent months on a futile effort to repeal it.

In the governor’s race in Virginia and a ballot initiative in Maine, the Affordable Care Act buoyed Democrats, a remarkable reversal from how Trump and congressional Republicans won elections excoriating the “failed” and “doomed” law.

A remarkable 4 out of 10 Virginians in an early exit poll said health care was their top issue in a race that saw Democrat Ralph Northam, the current lieutenant governor, handily defeat Republican Ed Gillespie to become Virginia’s next governor. And in Maine, voters in a landslide backed Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which their governor had vetoed on five separate occasions.

As Democrats now look to the 2018 midterms that will decide control of the House, Senate and key governorships across the country, they can Continue reading “Battered by Trump, Obamacare triumphs at the polls”