Medicaid expansion news from 4 states

Recent news reports describe the challenges of reforming Medicaid in California, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania and what these states are doing in response.

Changes in Medicaid eligibility requirements under the Affordable Care Act resulted in a need for 8.6 million previously-enrolled Californians to reapply for coverage. Though beneficiaries have always had to renew their Medicaid coverage annually, this year's renewal form is more complicated. It's unfamiliar to recipients, requires new information and is only available in English and Spanish.

People struggle to complete the form, and submission rates have been lower than usual. As a result, California may drop an unusually high number of beneficiaries from its Medicaid rolls by the end of the year, according to Kaiser Health News. This development would run counter to the ACA's goal of bringing more Americans into the health insurance tent. 

"There's a lot of confusion, and it's a language access issue, Connie Lo, health programs coordinator at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles, told KHN. "Most of our clients are limited English proficiency. They don't even know what these packets are for and why they're receiving so many documents together that they can't even read."

Advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Healthcare Services, claiming that coverage for MediCal beneficiaries is being terminated wrongfully. However, the state granted a six-month extension to re-enroll after the usual deadline and claims to have reinstatement remedies in place for the tardy, KNN reported.

Meanwhile, here's the Medicaid expansion and program alternative news from elsewhere:  

  • About 60,000 Hoosiers may lose coverage under the Healthy Indiana Plan--an alternative insurance for low-income residents--after the state's failure to file a complete application requesting federal permission to extend the program, the NWI Times noted.
  • Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Montana) released a two-year budget proposal Monday pushing for Medicaid expansion in keeping with his administration's goal to improve healthcare for Montanans, the Charlotte Observer reported.
  • Pennsylvania is expecting an influx of enrollments in Healthy PA, the state's alternative to Medicaid expansion, according to The Inquirer. Insurers have spent $11 million preparing their systems for this. But Gov.-elect Tom Wolf (D) wants to shift to outright Medicaid expansion and urged his predecessor to put the brakes on Healthy PA.

For more:
- here's the Kaiser Health News article
- see the Charlotte Observer article
- read The Inquirer article
- view the NWI Times article

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