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10 Things to Know about Medicaid: Setting the Facts Straight

Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low income. The Medicaid program covers 1 in 5 low-income Americans, including many with complex and costly needs for care. The vast majority of Medicaid enrollees lack access to other affordable health insurance. Medicaid covers a broad array of health services and limits enrollee out-of-pocket costs. The program is also the principal source of long-term care coverage for Americans. Medicaid finances nearly a fifth of all personal health care spending in the U.S., providing significant financing for hospitals, community health centers, physicians, nursing homes, and jobs in the health care sector. Title XIX of the Social Security Act and a large body of federal regulations govern the program, defining federal Medicaid requirements and state options and authorities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for implementing Medicaid.

An Overview of State Approaches to Adopting the Medicaid Expansion

State approaches to adopting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion have varied greatly by state based on state law, the political context, or other factors. While it does not cover how every state has enacted the Medicaid expansion, this issue brief highlights some of the different approaches states have taken to adopt the Medicaid expansion. Each state’s circumstances are unique, and the actions taken by one state may not apply to another state’s circumstances.

January State Data for Medicaid Work Requirements in Arkansas

Arkansas is one of seven states for which CMS has approved a Section 1115 waiver to condition Medicaid eligibility on meeting work and reporting requirements and the first state to implement this type of waiver. The new requirements were phased in for most enrollees ages 30-49 beginning in June 2018, and for individuals ages 19-29 starting in January 2019. Unless exempt, enrollees must engage in 80 hours of work or other qualifying activities each month and must report their work or exemption status by the 5th of the following month using an online portal; as of mid-December 2018, they also may report by phone. Monthly data related to the new requirements released by the Arkansas Department of Human Services show that over 18,000 people were disenrolled from Medicaid for failure to comply with the new requirements in 2018. Those who fail to comply with the requirements for any three months in 2019 can lose coverage beginning in April 2019. This brief looks at data for January 2019. Separate reports look at early implementation of the new requirements and enrollee experiences.

Potential Changes to Medicaid Long-Term Care Spousal Impoverishment Rules: States’ Plans and Implications for Community Integration

To financially qualify for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS), an individual must have a low income and limited assets. In response to concerns that these rules could leave a spouse without adequate means of support when a married individual needs LTSS, Congress created the spousal impoverishment rules in 1988. Originally, these rules required states to protect a portion of a married couple’s income and assets to provide for the “community spouse’s” living expenses when determining nursing home financial eligibility, but gave states the option to apply the rules to home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers.
Section 2404 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changed the spousal impoverishment rules to treat Medicaid HCBS and institutional care equally from January 2014 through December 2018. Congress subsequently extended Section 2404 through March 2019. This issue brief answers key questions about the spousal impoverishment rules, presents 50-state data from a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation survey about state policies and future plans in this area, and considers the implications if Congress does not further extend Section 2404.

“Partial” Medicaid Expansions Could Limit States’ Spending But Cover Fewer People at a Higher Federal Cost Compared to Traditional ACA Expansions

If states were able to receive enhanced Affordable Care Act matching funds for “partial” expansions of Medicaid, fewer people would get health coverage and the federal government would spend more, compared to a traditional expansion under the law, KFF explains in a new brief. The explainer describes how a partial…

“Partial Medicaid Expansion” with ACA Enhanced Matching Funds: Implications for Financing and Coverage

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides enhanced federal matching funds to states that expand Medicaid to nonelderly adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL, $17,236/year for an individual in 2019). The ACA enhanced match (93% in 2019, and 90% in 2020 and thereafter) is substantially higher than states’ traditional Medicaid matching rate. A few states have sought Section 1115 demonstration waiver authority from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to receive the substantially higher ACA enhanced match while limiting coverage to individuals at 100% FPL, instead of covering the full 138% FPL ACA group. To date, CMS has allowed states to receive the ACA enhanced Medicaid matching funds only if the entire expansion group is covered. CMS has not approved waiver requests seeking enhanced ACA matching funds for a partial coverage expansion in Arkansas or Massachusetts, while a request is pending in Utah. This brief explores the current rules for partial expansion and explains some of the potential implications for financing and coverage if CMS approves waivers to allow for partial expansion with enhanced matching funds.

Analysis Finds that Medications for Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS Are the Costliest Group of Outpatient Prescription Drugs for Medicaid, While Diabetes Drugs Have Posted the Sharpest Rise in Costs 

Antiviral medications, including those that treat hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, cost the Medicaid program more money (before rebates) than any other group of outpatient prescription drugs for each year from 2014 to 2017, according to a new KFF analysis. The analysis of utilization and spending trends finds that antivirals accounted…

Utilization and Spending Trends in Medicaid Outpatient Prescription Drugs

Although the outpatient drug benefit accounts for only 6% of total Medicaid spending, drug spending has increased by double digits in recent years, and is expected to grow faster than most other Medicaid services in the next 10 years. This issue brief examines drug spending and utilization from 2014 through 2017 by drug group, brand and generic status, and biologic status to understand the causes for this increase in spending.