Archive for the ‘Medicaid’ Category
The Obama administration recently approved a plan in Arkansas to use federal Medicaid expansion dollars to purchase private insurance for more than 200,000 uninsured state residents.
In addition, HHS indicated that other states might be allowed to implement similar plans.
Now other Republican-led states might see the plan as an opportunity to expand coverage without making the political move of accepting the Affordable Care Act.
For example, in Florida — where Gov. Rick Scott (R) recently proposed expanding Medicaid — the state Legislature recently rejected expansion; instead, a panel suggested following Arkansas’ example.
However, critics of the plan note that adding an individual to Medicaid costs about $6,000 while buying private coverage would cost about $9,000 per person, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) — a longtime critic of the Affordable Care Act — yesterday announced that his state will participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, the New York Times reports. Christie made the announcement as part of his fiscal year 2014 budget address (Zernike, New York Times, 2/26).
Last week, Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) released a $2.4 trillion deficit-reduction proposal in an attempt to bridge the gap between Obama and the GOP and show that a budget deal to avoid the sequester still is achievable.
STATE OF THE HEALTH CARE: What Health Care Topics President Obama Might Broach in Tonight’s State of the Union Address
President Obama tonight continues the long tradition of delivering a State of the Union address. While there are indications that Obama might spend little time discussing the Affordable Care Act, he could address a few health policy-related topics. Below we outline three such issues the president could tackle during his primetime address.
Some lawmakers recently have openly suggested that they might allow mandated spending cuts under sequestration — including a 2% reduction to Medicare reimbursement rates — to take effect in March, the Wall Street Journal reports (Hook, Wall Street Journal, 2/10).
The mandated spending cuts under sequestration involve about $1 trillion in across-the-board reductions. In January, President Obama signed legislation — negotiated by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — that delayed the cuts by two months, to March 1 (American Health Line, 2/6).
According to the Journal, Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on a potential deal to avoid the sequester. Further, lawmakers from both parties have indicated that they might acquiesce to the cuts. Some Democrats have said the urgency to avoid the automatic cuts has been tempered by the fact that Medicaid is exempt. Meanwhile, some Republicans believe the across-the-board reductions would be preferable to any plan that includes raising taxes (Wall Street Journal, 2/10).
Despite some lawmakers’ apparent willingness to allow the sequester to take effect, the White House on Friday said it would not get involved in the negotiations and would defer to Congress on how best to develop a solution for curbing the national debt (Paletta/Hook, Wall Street Journal, 2/8).
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President Obama was inaugurated last month, launching his second term and providing an opportunity to reflect upon the health policy legislation and decisions in his first term. While obvious focal point is the landmark but controversial Affordable Care Act, which Obama signed in March 2010 and his administration has spent much time implementing, Obama and his administration’s other health policy issues might have received less notice. However, from tackling fraud in government health programs to addressing obesity, the White House’s health policy efforts ran the gamut. Below are summaries of some of those other health policy efforts.
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, in a recent article writes that controlling the nation’s budget deficits cannot be done by reforming entitlements, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Reich writes that discussing entitlement reforms is a distraction from more important actions, including:
Limiting health care cost growth;
Cutting the military; and
Ending corporate welfare.
He continues that the rising number of U.S. residents receiving federal benefits is temporary and likely a result of the economic downturn. “If anything, America’s safety nets have been too small and shot through with holes,” he adds.
Reich suggests that the “solution isn’t to reduce Medicare benefits. It’s for the nation to contain overall health care costs and get more for its health care dollars.” To that end, he proposes a solution that leverages Medicare’s bargaining power over health care providers to shift away from a “‘fee-for-the-most-costly-service’ system to a system focused on achieving healthy outcomes.”