State standards for access to care for Medicaid recipients vary widely and are rarely enforced, says a soon-to-be released report by the Health and Human Services Department's inspector general. Meanwhile, Tennessee's governor pursues Medicaid expansion talks, and confusion continues in Pennsylvania about what benefits will be available to enrollees in that state's expansion plan.
The New York Times: For Many New Medicaid Enrollees, Care Is Hard to Find, Report Says
Enrollment in Medicaid is surging as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but the Obama administration and state officials have done little to ensure that new beneficiaries have access to doctors after they get their Medicaid cards, federal investigators say in a new report. The report, to be issued this week by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, says state standards for access to care vary widely and are rarely enforced. As a result, it says, Medicaid patients often find that they must wait for months or travel long distances to see a doctor (Pear, 9/27).
Forbes: As Obamacare Pays Medical Bills, Red States Pressured On Medicaid
A new report showing the continued pileup of unpaid medical bills in states that didn't expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is escalating criticism on these Republican-led areas of the country to expand the health insurance program for the poor. The report out last week from the Obama administration shows the costs of uncompensated care are projected to fall by $5.7 billion this year largely because millions of Americans are eligible for expanded Medicaid insurance ... Pressure on GOP-led states has worked in some cases. In Pennsylvania, for example, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is facing a difficult re-election challenge, dropped his opposition to the Medicaid expansion a few months ago (Japsen, 9/28).
Philadelphia Inquirer: Confusion Remains Over Corbett's Obamacare Alternative
Two months before Healthy Pennsylvania - Gov. Corbett's private-market version of Medicaid expansion - opens for business, advocates for the low-income uninsured have no idea what benefits packages will be offered or what criteria will be used to place people in plans. State officials "clearly have been on top of this because they have been getting the delivery system in place," says Leonardo Cuello, director of health policy at the National Health Law Program in Washington. "But I wouldn't be surprised if they haven't figured out a lot of the details." After months of negotiations over the state's request for 24 waivers, the Obama administration granted four of them in giving Healthy Pennsylvania the green light last month. The approval clears the way for 600,000 low-income Pennsylvanians - most of whom have never had health insurance - to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act starting Jan. 1 (Calandra, 9/28).
The Associated Press: Tennessee Governor Presses Ahead On Medicaid Expansion Talks
Gov. Bill Haslam says he's still in talks over finding a way to expand Medicaid in Tennessee despite pushback from fellow Republicans in the state Legislature. The governor said in a conference call with reporters after meetings with bond rating agencies in New York on Thursday that he wants to find a solution that is acceptable both to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and to largely skeptical lawmakers in Tennessee, who must approve any deal under a law passed earlier this year. Haslam said that he had meetings over the subject in Washington as recently as two weeks ago and that TennCare officials have been involved in ongoing discussions on the issue (Schelzig, 9/26).
Kaiser Health News: Texas And Florida Expand Medicaid – For Kids
Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year -- for school-age children. Those states were among 21 – including some big Democratic-led states, such as California -- that were required to widen Medicaid eligibility for children between the ages of 6 and 18 by 2014. That little-known provision of the health law is a key reason hundreds of thousands of kids gained coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a Kaiser Health News survey of a dozen states (Galewitz, 9/29).
Meanwhile, a Maryland gubernatorial candidate calls for investigating health exchange contracts -
The Associated Press: Hogan Calls For Wider Probe In Md. Health Exchange
Republican candidate for governor Larry Hogan called for a wider investigation of Maryland's flawed health care exchange website on Thursday with a focus on political donations from companies and state contracts they received. Hogan said he asked state and federal officials in a letter Wednesday to expand on an audit already underway by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His action served to underscore criticism of his opponent -; Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown -; in what has been an increasingly negative campaign for the governorship. Hogan said he sent letters to the Maryland U.S. attorney, the state prosecutor's office and the state attorney general's office (9/25).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.