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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.

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.

Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waivers: The Current Landscape of Approved and Pending Waivers

Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waivers provide states an avenue to test new approaches in Medicaid that differ from federal program rules. Waivers can provide states considerable flexibility in how they operate their programs, beyond what is available under current law. While there is great diversity in how states have used waivers over time, waivers generally reflect priorities identified by states and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This brief answers basic questions about Section 1115 waiver authority and discusses the current landscape of approved and pending demonstration waivers.

Medicaid in the Territories: Program Features, Challenges, and Changes

This brief draws on a survey of and interviews with Medicaid officials in U.S. Territories, as well as other research, to examine key issues and trends in their Medicaid programs. Territories differ from the states on key demographic, economic, and health status indicators. Unlike in the states, where federal Medicaid funding is not capped, and the federal share varies based on states’ per capita income, Medicaid in the territories is subject to a statutory cap and a fixed federal matching rate.

How Quickly are States Connecting Applicants to Medicaid and CHIP Coverage?

In November 2018, CMS released new state data on MAGI Medicaid and CHIP application processing time. These data reflect continued progress in reporting of performance indicators that CMS established in 2013 to facilitate data-driven program management and improvement.