California – (State of Reform, 05/01/20) The L.A. Care Health Plan has submitted a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to strengthen the Medicaid program. With California bracing for a 25% increase in Medicaid enrollments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the L.A. Care’s letter was signed by fifteen local health plans and detailed four measures they believe should be included in the 4th COVID-19 relief package. These include: increasing the federal share of Medicaid for two years; suspend the MFAR rule released last year; extend presumptive eligibility for Medicaid; and stop implementation of the public charge rule.
Missouri – (Forbes, 05/01/20) “The Fairness Project” which is working to bring the issue of Medicaid expansion to the state has announced that “the campaign submitted twice the number of signatures required” to be placed on the November ballot. It is projected that 230,000 Missourians would qualify for healthcare coverage should the initiative be supported by the voters, and in light of the impact of the Coronavirus on people losing jobs and their employer sponsored healthcare, some believe Medicaid expansion is gaining momentum in those states that have resisted. Once the signatures are certified by elections officials, Missouri will be the second state this year to have Medicaid expansion brought before the voters.
Oklahoma – (The Oklahoman, 04/27/20) As Oklahoma prepares for Medicaid expansion to go into effect on July 1st of this year, legislators have been grappling with how to pay for it and their concerns are magnified in the wake of the Coronavirus. It is anticipated that the Medicaid program could cost $100 million more than what was projected prior to the pandemic. With the state already facing a $1.3 billion shortfall in the coming fiscal year, law makers will be hard pressed to come up with the additional funding. Governor Stitt maintains that he will not raise taxes on the state’s citizens but instead is looking to increasing the share of the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program. The possible increase in this provider tax from 2.3% of annual net patient revenue to 4% is being met with pushback from the hospitals and lawmakers alike.
Colorado – (The Journal, 04/30/20) As the state’s legislative budget committee resumes work this week, they are facing a potential shortfall of $3 billion in the current and coming fiscal year due to the “economic calamity” caused by the Coronavirus. Among the initiatives being considered for a temporary pause or elimination is the commitment for funding to end the state’s waiting list for services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Six years ago, Colorado lawmakers pledged to clear the waitlists for all Medicaid waiver programs for people with disabilities by 2020. It did not happen, but more money a year ago and a big increase planned this year would have made a dent. Now budget analysts are recommending reductions in services and a freeze in new enrollment in adult comprehensive services to save millions in state dollars.”
New Jersey – (Trenton Daily, 05/03/20) The Murphy Administration has announced they will provide $24 million in state and federal funds for temporary wage increases for Direct Support Professionals. The funding went into effect on May 1st and will provide a $3/hour increase to staff working in residential and supervised apartments for three months. Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said in a statement, “Direct support professionals are essential workers ensuring that there is 24/7 support for some of our most vulnerable residents. Their hard work with residents, who often have underlying health conditions, is making a tremendous difference at this critical time. Today’s action is intended to recognize and value this essential work.” In addition, the Department of Health announced new guidance that requires hospitals to allow a “designated support person” to accompany a person with a disability during a hospitalization, despite other visitor restrictions.
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