Capitol Correspondence - 03.10.20

CMS Issues Informational Bulletin on Medicaid Income-Based Eligibility in 2020

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the poverty standards it will use to measure eligibility for Medicaid for the year 2020. As announced in the release:

“As required by Section 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1981 (42 U.S.C. 9902(2)), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updates the poverty guidelines at least annually and by law these updates are applied to eligibility criteria for programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These annual updates increase the Census Bureau’s current official poverty thresholds by the relevant percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI–U).

The 2020 guidelines reflect the 1.8 percent price increase between calendar years 2018 and 2019. After this inflation adjustment, the guidelines are rounded and adjusted to standardize the differences between family and household sizes. For a family or household of 4 persons living in one of the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia, the poverty guideline for 2020 is $26,200. Separate poverty guideline figures are developed for Alaska and Hawaii, and different guidelines may apply to the Territories.”

The larger fight brewing in the background on this issue: For the past year, ANCOR has been monitoring efforts by the Administration to change how the federal government assesses poverty levels overall. While the federal standards discussion is separate from the 2020 guidelines discussed above, it is important for our members to remain aware of it because any changes to the federal poverty level standards would affect future Medicaid poverty guidelines. Because of this, in 2019 ANCOR joined a coalition letter expressing concerns about the proposed changes’ potential to disproportionately affect people with disabilities.