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The Voice of Thomas Johnson
In the January 11, 2018, letter published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) giving the green light for states to pursue adding work requirements to their Section 1115 waiver programs, the Trump administration, through CMS, has looked to push the envelope as to how far they can modify the Medicaid program as we know it. Changes have not only included typical proposed structural changes, such as turning Medicaid into a block grant program, but new proposals are aimed at the very heart of what Medicaid means—and these proposed changes are being led by the states.
Many thought, with the failure of the U.S. Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the end of the 2017 fiscal year, the act was safe from another repeal effort under this Congress. While the names in the Senate may remain the same, the effective plan may have now changed. Former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Andy Slavitt has described this as “synthetic repeal.”
Reauthorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) lurks behind Washington’s focus on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal and replace efforts. But the battle may be as contentious, and the added factor of a September 30th deadline makes stakeholders worry.
The reintroduction of the bipartisan “Stabilize Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Act of 2017” in the House (Green, D-Texas, and Barton, R-Texas) and the Senate (Brown, D-Ohio) provides 12 months of continuous eligibility to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees, mitigating the effect of what is known as “churn” for enrollees and health plans. “Churn” affects millions of enrollees who are disenrolled from Medicaid or CHIP due to changes in income or paperwork, despite being otherwise eligible.