Oklahoma votes to expand Medicaid

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/payer-issues/oklahoma-votes-to-expand-medicaid.html?utm_medium=email

Oklahoma voters narrowly approve Medicaid expansion | News Break

Oklahoma voters approved a state question to expand Medicaid to more low-income residents, according to The Oklahoman.

The June 30 vote makes Oklahoma the first state to amend its constitution to expand Medicaid. Adding Medicaid expansion to Oklahoma’s constitution effectively limits the state’s GOP-controlled legislature and Republican governor from rolling back the measure.

The vote narrowly passed, with most of Oklahoma’s counties opposing the expansion. Just seven of the state’s 77 counties, including more populated ones such as Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties, voted in favor.

Oklahoma has until July 1, 2021, to expand Medicaid under the ACA. The expansion is expected to affect about 200,000 Oklahomans and cost about $164 million annually. The cost was a sticking point for Gov. Kevin Stitt, as the state may face a $1 billion shortfall in 2022. The Oklahoma Hospital Association supports the expansion.

 

 

As Americans lose job-based coverage, ACA marketplace sets record with near 500K signups

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/as-americans-lose-job-based-coverage-aca-marketplace-sets-record-with-near/580623/

Dive Brief:

  • Millions of individuals have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, allowing them to enroll in Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage via Healthcare.gov due to their special circumstances. CMS said this week that this special enrollment coverage due to job loss specifically has reached a record, with about 487,000 consumers gaining coverage, a 46% increase compared with the same time last year.
  • April saw the biggest jump in enrollment following job loss, an increase of 139% compared to April of last year.
  • Due to a number of factors, CMS said it “remains unclear how many people will eventually look to Exchanges using HealthCare.gov to replace job-based coverage.”

Dive Insight:

The pandemic has battered the economy, causing historic levels of unemployment. For many Americans, healthcare coverage is tethered to their jobs. As such, the pandemic is not only a threat to Americans’ health but their ability to pay for the care they need, sick with COVID-19 or not.

As many as 27 million Americans may have lost job-based coverage between March and May of this year, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Of the newly uninsured, about half (12.7 million) would be eligible for Medicaid coverage, according to Kaiser’s estimates. There are a few options for workers out of a job and insurance. They can opt to extend their coverage through COBRA, enroll in coverage through the exchanges, or check to see if they qualify for Medicaid.

This week, CMS attempted to quantify just how many out-of-work Americans were turning to the exchanges.

About 500,000 out-of-work consumers enrolled in coverage so far this year. However, there are other life events that qualify a consumer to shop for coverage during a special enrollment period. Overall, special enrollment period sign-ups garnered more than 890,000 enrollees, dwarfing other periods. 

If the trend continues, it may fuel a significant shift in health insurance. For years, a majority have received commercial coverage through work. Even health insurers recognize disruption is on the horizon.

Many of the nation’s largest insurers are bracing for a shift from their commercial book of business to covering more Medicaid enrollees through their contracts with states. Earlier this year, Molina, Centene and Anthem all said they expect upticks in their Medicaid membership and exchange products.

Molina executives said in April they already saw 30,000 more Medicaid members from the prior-year period.

 

 

 

 

ACA enrollment up 46%

https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-vitals-59e9ac1a-ab86-4f8a-917a-8c9d52f5835f.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&stream=top

Obamacare Coverage Spikes After Covid-Related Job Losses

The number of people who lost jobs and related health coverage and then signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans on the federal website was up 46% this year compared with 2019, representing an increase of 154,000 people, the federal government said in a new report.

The bottom line: The government said the rush of people going to HealthCare.gov was tied to “job losses due to COVID-19,” Bob writes.

Yes, but: Medicaid enrollment due to coronavirus-related job losses appears to be growing even faster than enrollment in ACA plans, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

Go deeper: Medicaid will be a coronavirus lifeline

 

 

 

 

White House set to ask Supreme Court this week to overturn ACA: 4 things to know

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/white-house-to-ask-supreme-court-this-week-to-overturn-aca-4-things-to-know.html?utm_medium=email

New rules for Supreme Court justices as they plan their first-ever ...

The White House is expected to file legal briefs with the Supreme Court this week that will ask the justices to end the ACA, according to The New York Times

Four things to know:

1. The filings are in relation to Texas v. United States, the latest legal challenge to the ACA. Arguments around the case center on whether the ACA’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when the penalty associated with it was erased by the 2017 tax law. Whether that decision invalidates the entire law or only certain parts of it is at question.

2. The White House is set to ask the Supreme Court June 25 to invalidate the law. The filings come at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and their employer-based health coverage.

3. Republicans have said they want to “repeal and replace” the ACA, but there is no agreed upon alternative, according to The New York Times. Party strategists told the publication that Republicans will be in a tricky spot if they try to overturn the ACA ahead of the November elections and amid a pandemic. 

4. In addition to the filings, Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to reveal a bill this week that would boost the ACA. Proposals include more subsidies for healthcare premiums, expanding Medicaid coverage for uninsured pregnant women and offering states incentives to expand Medicaid.

Read the full report here

 

 

State-by-state breakdown of 130 rural hospital closures

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/state-by-state-breakdown-of-130-rural-hospital-closures.html

Rural Hospital Closures Hit Poor, Minority Communities Hardest ...

Nearly one in five Americans live in rural areas and depend on their local hospital for care. Over the past 10 years, 130 of those hospitals have closed.

Thirty-three states have seen at least one rural hospital shut down since 2010, and the closures are heavily clustered in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Twenty-one rural hospitals in Texas have closed since 2010, the most of any state. Tennessee has the second-most closures, with 13 rural hospitals shutting down in the past decade. In third place is Oklahoma with eight closures. 

Listed below are the 130 rural hospitals that have closed since Jan. 1, 2010, as tracked by the Sheps Center. For the purposes of its analysis, the Sheps Center defined a hospital closure as the cessation in the provision of inpatient services.

“We follow the convention of the Office of Inspector General that a closed hospital is ‘a facility that stopped providing general, short-term, acute inpatient care,'” reads a statement on the Sheps Center’s website. “We did not consider a hospital closed if it: merged with, or was sold to, another hospital but the physical plant continued to provide inpatient acute care, converted to critical access status, or both closed and reopened during the same calendar year and at the same physical location.”

As of June 8, all the facilities listed below had stopped providing inpatient care. However, some of them still offered other services, including outpatient care, emergency care, urgent care or primary care.

Alabama
SouthWest Alabama Medical Center (Thomasville)
Randolph Medical Center (Roanoke)
Chilton Medical Center (Clanton)
Florence Memorial Hospital
Elba General Hospital
Georgiana Medical Center

Alaska
Sitka Community Hospital

Arizona
Cochise Regional Hospital (Douglas)
Hualapai Mountain Medical Center (Kingman)
Florence Community Healthcare

Arkansas
De Queen Medical Center

California
Kingsburg Medical Center
Corcoran District Hospital
Adventist Health Feather River (Paradise)
Coalinga Regional Medical Center

Florida
Campbellton-Graceville Hospital
Regional General Hospital (Williston)
Shands Live Oak Regional Medical Center
Shands Starke Regional Medical Center

Georgia
Hart County Hospital (Harwell)
Charlton Memorial Hospital (Folkston)
Calhoun Memorial Hospital (Arlington)
Stewart-Webster Hospital (Richland)
Lower Oconee Community Hospital (Glenwood)
North Georgia Medical Center (Ellijay)

Illinois
St. Mary’s Hospital (Streator)

Indiana
Fayette Regional Health System

Kansas
Central Kansas Medical Center (Great Bend)
Mercy Hospital Independence
Mercy Hospital Fort Scott
Horton Community Hospital
Oswego Community Hospital
Sumner Community Hospital (Wellington)

Kentucky
Nicholas County Hospital (Carlisle)
Parkway Regional Hospital (Fulton)
New Horizons Medical Center (Owenton)
Westlake Regional Hospital (Columbia)

Louisiana
Doctor’s Hospital at Deer Creek (Leesville)

Maine
St. Andrews Hospital (Boothbay Harbor)
Southern Maine Health Care-Sanford Medical Center
Parkview Adventist Medical Center (Brunswick)

Maryland
Edward W. McCready Memorial Hospital (Crisfield)

Massachusetts
North Adams Regional Hospital

Michigan
Cheboygan Memorial Hospital

Minnesota
Lakeside Medical Center
Albany Area Hospital
Albert Lea-Mayo Clinic Health System
Mayo Clinic Health System-Springfield

Mississippi
Patient’s Choice Medical of Humphreys County (Belzoni)
Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton
Merit Health Natchez-Community Campus
Kilmichael Hospital
Quitman County Hospital (Marks)

Missouri
Sac-Osage Hospital (Osceola)
Parkland Health Center-Weber Road (Farmington)
Southeast Health Center of Reynolds County (Ellington)
Southeast Health Center of Ripley County (Doniphan)
Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center (Kennett)
I-70 Community Hospital (Sweet Springs)
Pinnacle Regional Hospital (Boonville)

Nebraska
Tilden Community Hospital

Nevada
Nye Regional Medical Center (Tonopah)

New York
Lake Shore Health Care Center
Moses-Ludington Hospital (Ticonderoga)

North Carolina
Blowing Rock Hospital
Vidant Pungo Hospital (Belhaven)
Novant Health Franklin Medical Center (Louisburg)
Yadkin Valley Community Hospital (Yadkinville)
Our Community Hospital (Scotland Neck)
Sandhills Regional Medical Center (Hamlet)
Davie Medical Center-Mocksville

Ohio
Physicians Choice Hospital-Fremont
Doctors Hospital of Nelsonville

Oklahoma
Muskogee Community Hospital
Epic Medical Center (Eufaula)
Memorial Hospital & Physician Group (Frederick)
Latimer County General Hospital (Wilburton)
Pauls Valley General Hospital
Sayre Community Hospital
Haskell County Community Hospital (Stigler)
Mercy Hospital El Reno

Pennsylvania
Saint Catherine Medical Center Fountain Springs (Ashland)
Mid-Valley Hospital (Peckville)
Ellwood City Medical Center
UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury

South Carolina
Bamberg County Memorial Hospital
Marlboro Park Hospital (Bennettsville)
Southern Palmetto Hospital (Barnwell)
Fairfield Memorial Hospital (Winnsboro)

South Dakota
Holy Infant Hospital (Hoven)

Tennessee
Riverview Regional Medical Center South (Carthage)
Starr Regional Medical Center-Etowah
Haywood Park Community Hospital (Brownsville)
Gibson General Hospital (Trenton)
Humboldt General Hospital
United Regional Medical Center (Manchester)
Parkridge West Hospital (Jasper)
Tennova Healthcare-McNairy Regional (Selmer)
Copper Basin Medical Center (Copperhill)
McKenzie Regional Hospital
Jamestown Regional Medical Center
Takoma Regional Hospital (Greeneville)
Decatur County General Hospital (Parsons)

Texas
Wise Regional Health System-Bridgeport
Shelby Regional Medical Center
Renaissance Hospital Terrell
East Texas Medical Center-Mount Vernon
East Texas Medical Center-Clarksville
East Texas Medical Center-Gilmer
Good Shepherd Medical Center (Linden)
Lake Whitney Medical Center (Whitney)
Hunt Regional Community Hospital of Commerce
Gulf Coast Medical Center (Wharton)
Nix Community General Hospital (Dilley)
Weimar Medical Center
Care Regional Medical Center (Aransas Pass)
East Texas Medical Center-Trinity
Little River Healthcare Cameron Hospital
Little River Healthcare Rockdale Hospital
Stamford Memorial Hospital
Texas General-Van Zandt Regional Medical Center (Grand Saline)
Hamlin Memorial Hospital
Chillicothe Hospital
Central Hospital of Bowie

Virginia
Lee Regional Medical Center (Pennington Gap)
Pioneer Community Hospital of Patrick County (Stuart)
Mountain View Regional Hospital (Norton)

West Virginia
Williamson Memorial Hospital
Fairmont Regional Medical Center

Wisconsin
Franciscan Skemp Medical Center (Arcadia)

 

 

 

 

Medicaid expansion key indicator for rural hospitals’ financial viability

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/medicaid-expansion-rural-hospitals-health-affairs/579005/

Hospital Closures, Underfunded Health Centers In Ohio Valley ...

Dive Brief:

  • Struggling rural hospitals are faring better financially in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Health Affairs study examining 1,004 rural hospitals’ CMS cost reports submitted from 2011 to 2017.
  • Among rural, nonprofit critical access hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid, the median overall margin increased from 1.8% to 3.7%, while it dropped from 3.5% to 2.8% in states that did not expand the program.
  • Tax-exempt status played another key role in determining rural hospitals’ financial viability. During the study period, the median overall profit margin at nonprofit critical access hospitals rose from 2.5% to 3.2%, while it dropped among for-profit operators from 3.2% to 0.4%.

Dive Insight:

The unprecedented financial distress mega health systems are under amid the ongoing pandemic is all too familiar to rural hospitals.

These systems are often smaller, employing fewer specialists and less medical technology, thus limiting the variety of services they can provide and profit on. They remain the closest point of care for millions of Americans, yet face rising closures.

The good news is that most rural hospitals are nonprofit, the designation that fared best in Health Affairs’ six-year study. More than 80% of the 1,004 private, rural hospitals analyzed in the study were nonprofit, while 17% were for-profit.

But researchers found Medicaid expansion played a key role in rural hospitals’ financial viability during the study period, with closures occurring more often in the South than in other regions.

Thirty-seven states have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, but 14 have not, and a majority of them are concentrated in the southern U.S., according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

One of those states is Oklahoma, which on Monday withdrew its planned July 1 Medicaid expansion, citing a lack of funding.

Another factor researchers found positively associated with overall margins and financial viability was charge markups, or the charged amount for a service relative to the Medicare allowable cost. Hospitals with low-charge markups had median overall margins of 1.8%, while those with high-charge markups had margins at 3.5%.

The same is true for occupancy rates. In 2017, rural hospitals with low occupancy rates had median overall profit margins of 0.1% Those with high occupancy rates had margins of 4.7%.

That presents a unique challenge for rural hospitals. Reimbursements from public and private payers do not compensate for fixed costs associated with providing standby capacity, which is essential in rural communities, where few hospitals serve large geographic areas.

Since 1997, CMS has been granting rural hospitals — particularly those with 25 or fewer acute care inpatient beds and located more than 35 miles from another hospital — critical access status, reimbursing them at cost for treating Medicare patients.

In the Health Affairs study, critical access hospitals accounted for 21% of the rural hospital bed capacity, with the remaining 79% of bed capacity provided by noncritical access hospitals.

 

 

 

 

COVID-19, Unemployment Compensation, and State Medicaid Expansion Decisions

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2020/05/covid-19-unemployment-compensation-and-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions.html?utm_source=The+Fiscal+Times&utm_campaign=04962bd706-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_05_29_09_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_714147a9cf-04962bd706-390702969

COVID-19, Unemployment Compensation, and State Medicaid Expansion ...

Some Workers Losing Jobs and Health Insurance Remain Ineligible for Subsidized Coverage.

Store closed sign.

People who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and live in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing affordable health insurance coverage.

The Issue

More than 70 percent of the 7.4 million workers with pre-pandemic employer-based insurance through industries now vulnerable to high rates of unemployment were found to be eligible for some assistance with health insurance (Medicaid or marketplace subsidies) if they lost their jobs. However, eligibility differs significantly between workers in states that have and have not expanded Medicaid.

Authors expand upon earlier work to show how varied levels of unemployment insurance provided through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program affects eligibility for subsidized coverage.

Key Findings

Authors find that whether unemployment compensation is included in determining eligibility for Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace subsidies affects workers living in states that expanded Medicaid differently than those living in states that do not.

  • If the additional federal unemployment compensation was not used to determine eligibility for health insurance assistance, 78 percent of expansion state workers in the most vulnerable industries would be eligible for assistance compared to 59 percent of their counterparts in the 15 nonexpansion states.

  • Under current law, more than 70 percent of expansion and nonexpansion state workers with pre-pandemic employer-based insurance through industries now vulnerable to high rates of unemployment would be eligible for some assistance with health insurance if they lost their jobs.

Conclusion

The current limits on marketplace subsidies mean that fewer workers are likely to be eligible for financial assistance in getting or maintaining health insurance coverage. At the same time, additional funds could help them meet other pressing needs. This research suggests that eligibility for financial assistance above 400 percent of the federal poverty level under current rules would address this problem.

About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector. Visit the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center for more information specific to its staff and its recent research.  

 

 

 

All 50 states have partially reopened; U.S. death toll surpasses 90,000

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/20/coronavirus-update-us/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most

NC coronavirus update May 18: Wake County leaders meet to discuss ...

Ready or not, the United States is reopening. All 50 states have started easing coronavirus-related restrictions — even though many of them do not meet federal benchmarks — leading public health experts to warn that a new surge of infections could be imminent.

As the U.S. death toll surpassed 90,000, White House officials continued to defend the push to reopen and optimistically predicted a swift economic recovery. As part of the focus on states’ efforts to revive their economies, Vice President Pence on Wednesday traveled to Florida while Trump was set to host the governors of Arkansas and Kansas at the White House.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Trump ramped up his rhetoric against China, claiming on Twitter that the nation’s “incompetence” was responsible for “this mass Worldwide killing!” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also denounced China as a “brutal authoritarian regime” and described its relationship with the director of the World Health Organization as “troubling.”
  • A worker at a mink farm in the Netherlands may have contracted the novel coronavirus from an animal there, the country’s agricultural minister said. If confirmed, this is would be first recorded incident of animal-to-human transmission. 
  • A church in Houston and another in Georgia are closing for a second time after faith leaders and congregants tested positive for the virus shortly after the two churches reopened.
  • The president drew criticism for saying Tuesday it’s “a badge of honor” that America leads the world with more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus because “it means our testing is much better.” The United States has more than 30 percent of the world’s known coronavirus infections but accounts for less than 5 percent of the global population.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a detailed, delayed road map for reopening schools, child-care facilities, restaurants and mass transit, weeks after governors began opening states on their own terms.
  • The president privately expressed opposition to extending unemployment benefits for workers affected by the pandemic.

 

 

 

 

Medicaid Providers At The End Of The Line For Federal COVID Funding

Medicaid Providers At The End Of The Line For Federal COVID Funding

Medicaid Providers At The End Of The Line For Federal COVID ...

Casa de Salud, a nonprofit clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides primary medical care, opioid addiction services and non-Western therapies, including acupuncture and reiki, to a largely low-income population.

And, like so many other health care providers that serve as a safety net, its revenue — and its future — are threatened by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I’ve been working for the past six weeks to figure out how to keep the doors open,” said the clinic’s executive director, Dr. Anjali Taneja. “We’ve seen probably an 80% drop in patient care, which has completely impacted our bottom line.”

In March, Congress authorized $100 billion for health care providers, both to compensate them for the extra costs associated with caring for patients with COVID-19 and for the revenue that’s not coming in from regular care. They have been required to stop providing most nonemergency services, and many patients are afraid to visit health care facilities.

But more than half that money has been allocated by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the majority of it so far has gone to hospitals, doctors and other facilities that serve Medicare patients. Officials said at the time that was an efficient way to get the money beginning to move to many providers. That, however, leaves out a large swath of the health system infrastructure that serves the low-income Medicaid population and childrenCasa de Salud, for example, accepts Medicaid but not Medicare.

State Medicaid directors say that without immediate funding, many of the health facilities that serve Medicaid patients could close permanently. More than a month ago, bipartisan Medicaid chiefs wrote the federal government asking for immediate authority to make “retainer” payments — not related to specific care for patients — to keep their health providers in business.

“If we wait, core components of the Medicaid delivery system could fail during, or soon after, this pandemic,” wrote the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

So far, the Trump administration has not responded, although in early April it said it was “working rapidly on additional targeted distributions” for other providers, including those who predominately serve Medicaid patients.

In an email, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said officials there will “continue to work with states as they seek to ensure continued access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries through and beyond the public health emergency.”

CMS noted that states have several ways of boosting payments for Medicaid providers, but did not directly answer the question about the retainer payments that states are seeking the authority to make. Nor did it say when the funds would start to flow to Medicaid providers who do not also get funding from Medicare.

The delay is frustrating Medicaid advocates.

“This needs to be addressed urgently,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families in Washington, D.C. “We are concerned about the infrastructure and how quickly it could evaporate.”

In the administration’s explanation of how it is distributing the relief funds, Medicaid providers are included in a catchall category at the very bottom of the list, under the heading “additional allocations.”

“To not see anything substantive coming from the federal level just adds insult to injury,” said Todd Goodwin.

He runs the John F. Murphy Homes in Auburn, Maine, which provides residential and day services to hundreds of children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. He said his organization — which has already furloughed almost 300 workers and spent more than $200,000 on COVID-related expenses including purchases of essential equipment such as masks and protective equipment that will not be reimbursable — has not been eligible for any of the various aid programs passed by Congress. It gets most of its funding from Medicaid and public school systems.

The organization has tapped a line of credit to stay afloat. “But if we’re not here providing these services, there’s no Plan B,” he said.

Even providers who largely serve privately insured patients are facing financial distress. Dr. Sandy Chung is CEO of Trusted Doctors, which has about 50 physicians in 13 offices in the Northern Virginia suburbs around Washington, D.C. She said about 15% of its funding comes from Medicaid, but the drop off in private and Medicaid patients has left the group “really struggling.”

“We’ve had to furlough staff, had to curtail hours, and we may have to close some locations,” she said.

Of special concern are children because Medicaid covers nearly 40% of them across the county. Chung, who also heads the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that vaccination rates are off 30% for infants and 75% for adolescents, putting them and others at risk for preventable illnesses.

The biggest rub, she added, is that with the economy in free fall, more people will qualify for Medicaid coverage in the coming weeks and months.

“But if you don’t have providers around anymore, then you will have a significant mismatch,” she said.

Back in Albuquerque, Taneja is working to find whatever sources of funding she can to keep the clinic open. She secured a federal loan to help cover her payroll for a couple of months, but worries what will happen after that. “It would kill me if we’ve survived 15 years in this health care system, just to not make it through COVID,” she said.

 

 

 

 

States brace for ‘nearly certain’ Medicaid budget shortfalls amid COVID-19

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/states-brace-for-nearly-certain-medicaid-budget-shortfalls-amid-covid-19/578120/

Coronavirus updates: Virus reaches all 50 states, stock futures fall

Dive Brief:

  • Most states with budget projections expect Medicaid shortfalls due to rising spending as more people lose jobs and enroll into the safety net insurance for low-income Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
  • Almost all states with enrollment projections and more than half with spending projections expect program growth to surpass pre-pandemic estimates. Nearly all states anticipate growth will accelerate even more in the 2021 fiscal year, KFF found. As a result of that growth, 17 of 19 states with budget projections report a shortfall is “nearly certain” or “likely” for the upcoming fiscal year.
  • The survey comes as Congress once again considers raising the federal match rate for Medicaid in the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, passed by the House of Representatives on Friday.​

Dive Insight:

Medicaid is often the top line spending item in state budgets, sending states scrambling for ways to reduce spend in the safety net health insurance program, including controversial block grants for funding.

At the start of the 2020 fiscal year, states anticipated modest Medicaid spending growth, and flat enrollment growth due to the strong economy. That forecast quickly shifted as the coronavirus spread in the U.S., which lost some 21 million jobs in April as businesses shutter their doors in compliance with stay-at-home orders, sending the unemployment rate to 15%.  

Because the U.S. generally couples coverage to employment, skyrocketing job loss could make an estimated 17 million people newly eligible for Medicaid and 6 million eligible for subsidies in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces by January 2021.

Medicaid officials from 38 states shared their budget projections with KFF for the survey. States that did not respond were still gathering data about the coronavirus or didn’t have updated enrollment or spending projections for the 2020 or 2021 fiscal years, KFF researchers Robin Rudowitz and Elizabeth Hinton said.

Thirty-two of 34 states with enrollment projections think enrollment will exceed initial projections in 2020, and 30 of 31 states anticipate that growth in 2021 will outpace the current fiscal year.

States are more mixed on spending projections. Over half of states with projections, 18 of 32, expect 2020 Medicaid spending to exceed pre-pandemic estimates. Eight states anticipate no change, and the remaining six project slightly lowered spending due to lower healthcare utilization as non-essential services have largely ground to a halt.

State Medicaid officials are more in lockstep when it comes to 2021 spending projections. Nearly all states with projections — 29 of 30 — think Medicaid spending rates in 2021 will increase over 2020.

Without greater support from the federal government, the survey hints states will face significant spending cuts for Medicaid for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1 for most states. Multiple groups, including the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Medicaid Directors, have called for a higher federal match rate.

One of the first legislative packages designed to mitigate the fallout of COVID-19, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed March 18, authorized a 6.2 percentage point increase in the rate for Medicaid if states meet certain requirements. States can’t increase premiums or restrict eligibility standards and must cover COVID-19 testing and treatment without cost-sharing.

The HEROES Act passed by Democrats in the House on Friday would increase the match rate by 14 percentage points from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, along with benchmarking an additional $100 billion for providers.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and President Donald Trump have said they’re in no rush to pass another round of legislation adding to the more than $3 trillion Congress has approved so far.