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MACPAC Meets

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met for two days last week in Washington, D.C.

The following is MACPAC’s own summary of the sessions.

The Commission wrapped up its work on the June 2019 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP at the April meeting, with sessions reviewing four of the report’s five draft chapters on Thursday morning, and votes on potential recommendations later in the afternoon.

First on Thursday’s agenda was a draft June chapter on Medicaid prescription drug policy, which contained draft recommendations to provide states with a grace period to determine Medicaid drug coverage and raise the cap on rebates. The Commission then revisited hospital payment policy, with a draft chapter and recommendation on how to treat third-party payment in the definition of Medicaid shortfall when determining disproportionate share hospital payments. Next, commissioners considered two recommendations proposed as part of a June chapter on improving the effectiveness of Medicaid program integrity. The final morning session addressed the Commission’s proposed recommendation on therapeutic foster care.

The Commission returned from lunch for two presentations discussing preliminary findings of forthcoming congressionally mandated reports. The first afternoon session presented initial findings from a MACPAC review of state Medicaid utilization management policies related to medication-assisted treatment, to be issued in October. The session immediately following presented preliminary findings for a January 2020 study on Medicaid standards for institutions for mental diseases. Both reports are required as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (P.L. 115-271). Votes on June 2019 recommendations closed out the day.

Friday’s sessions opened with a review of the fifth draft chapter slated for June, on Medicaid in Puerto Rico. The second session of the morning reviewed a proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in March to promote interoperability in federal health care programs. The April meeting closed with a review of evaluations of integrated care for dually eligible beneficiaries.

Supporting the discussion were the following presentations:

  1. Review of Draft Chapter for June Report and Recommendations on Prescription Drug Policy: Grace Period and Cap on Rebates
  2. Review of Draft Chapter for June Report and Proposed Medicaid Shortfall Recommendation
  3. Review of Draft Chapter on Improving the Effectiveness of Medicaid Program Integrity and Recommendations
  4. Review of Recommendation for June Report Chapter on Therapeutic Foster Care
  5. Preliminary Findings from Congressionally Mandated Study on Medication-Assisted Treatment Utilization Management Policies
  6. Preliminary Findings on Congressionally Mandated Study on Institutions for Mental Diseases
  7. Review of Draft June Report Chapter on Medicaid in Puerto Rico
  8. Review of Proposed Rule to Promote Interoperability in Federal Health Care Programs
  9. Evaluating Integrated Care: Review of Results from Literature

Because Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals serve so many Medicaid patients, MACPAC’s deliberations are especially relevant to them because its recommendations often find their way into future Medicaid and CHIP policies.

MACPAC is a non-partisan legislative branch agency that provides policy and data analysis and makes recommendations to Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Department  of Health and Human Services, and the states on a wide variety of issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Find its web site here.

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

SNAP Endorses Governor’s Proposal for Paying for Tobacco Borrowing

Debt service on the state’s borrowing against future proceeds from the national master tobacco settlement agreement should be paid using state sales and use tax revenue, SNAP has declared in a new position statement.

Last year the state borrowed $1.5 billion against future proceeds from the tobacco settlement.  Some tobacco settlement money is used to help hospitals with the cost of uncompensated care they provide via tobacco uncompensated care payments and tobacco extraordinary expense payments made to hospitals that meet specific criteria:  how much uncompensated care they provide, the proportion of their patients insured by Medicaid, and the proportion of low-income seniors they serve.  All Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals qualify for these payments.

Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania logoBecause the state’s borrowing against future tobacco settlement proceeds was never intended to result in a reduction of these payments in the future, SNAP has issued a position statement endorsing the Wolf administration’s suggestion, in its proposed FY 2020 budget, to pay debt service on its tobacco borrowing with sales and use tax revenue.

Filed under: Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania Medicaid policy, Pennsylvania proposed FY 2020 budget, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Pennsylvania state budget issues

Delay Medicaid DSH Cut, Pelosi Says

Medicaid DSH cuts should be delayed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told a gathering of hospital officials.

According to Speaker Pelosi,

DSH cuts threaten to erode the health of community hospitals, safety-net hospitals and rural hospitals, [affecting] the health of not only the families that rely on Medicaid, but any person who relies on these hospitals for care.

SNAP members all receive Medicaid DSH payments and would be harmed if the scheduled cut takes effect on October 1.

Learn more about Speaker Pelosi’s remarks in the Becker’s Hospital Review article “House speaker urges Congress to ease Medicaid payment cuts to hospitals serving low-income patients.”

Filed under: DSH hospitals, Federal Medicaid issues, Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Medicare Advantage Permitted to Address Non-medical Needs

Starting in 2020, Medicare Advantage plans will be permitted to provide non-medical benefits to their chronically ill members.

As described in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “final call letter’ for 2020,

MA [Medicare Advantage] plans are not prohibited from offering an item or service that can be expected to improve or maintain the health or overall function of an enrollee only while the enrollee is using it.  In other words, the statute does not require that the maintenance or improvement expected from an SSBCI [special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill] result in a permanent change in an enrollee’s condition.  Items and services may include, but are not limited to:  meals furnished to the enrollee beyond a limited basis, transportation for non-medical needs, pest control, air quality equipment and services, and benefits to address social needs, so long as such items and services have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function of an individual as it relates to their chronic condition or illness.

The CMS final call letter offers permission to Medicare Advantage plans to offer such services; it does not require them to do so.

Such a policy change could be highly beneficial to many of the low-income patients served by Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, which have long sought help with addressing the social determinants of health that often bring patients to them but limit their ability to recover from their illnesses and injuries.

Learn more from the Commonwealth Fund report “New Medicare Advantage Benefits Offer Social Services to People with Chronic Illness” and see CMS’s “Announcement of Calendar Year (CY) 2020 Medicare Advantage Capitation Rates and Medicare Advantage and Part D Payment Policies and Final Call Letter.”

 

Filed under: Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, social determinants of health

Groups Work to Create New Codes for Social Determinants

Social determinants of health could have their own ICD-10 codes if a new initiative from the American Medical Association and United Healthcare succeeds.

The two are working together to develop new ICD-10 codes that would take into consideration social determinants of health such as housing and food security, access to transportation, and ability to pay for medicine.

The project launches at a time when research suggests that social determinants of health can affect nearly 80 percent of health care outcomes.

Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals struggle more than other hospitals, and must work harder to address, the social determinants of health that play such a major role in the health and well-being of the residents of the low-income communities they serve.

Learn more in the Health Analytics IT article “AMA, UnitedHealth Partner for Social Determinants ICD-10 Project.”

 

Filed under: Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, social determinants of health

Bill Would Enable Foreign-Born Docs to Work in Underserved U.S. Areas

More foreign-born, U.S.-trained doctors would be permitted to remain in the U.S. if they practice in medically underserved areas under a bill unveiled last week in Congress.

Introduced with bipartisan support, the legislation would extend for two years the current “Conrad 30” program that allocates 30 slots to each state so foreign-born doctors can work in medically underserved areas under J-1 visas.  The program, which already exists but will soon expire, permits such physicians to remain in the U.S. for three years after their training ends to work in underserved areas.  The legislation also would establish criteria under which more than 30 such physicians can be employed in a given state.

Some Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals are located in and around medically underserved areas.

To learn more, see the Senate news release from the bill’s sponsors describing their proposal and why they are offering it or see the bill itself.

 

Filed under: Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

New Web Site Shows Maximum 340B Prices

Providers can now see the maximum prices for 340B-covered drugs on a new web site established by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration.

The web site, mandated by Congress after the U.S. Department of Health and Services’ Inspector General found that some providers are being overcharged, will enable 340B-eligible providers to identify the maximum price they can be charged for covered drugs.  This, HRSA believes, will help providers avoid being overcharged in the future.

Most Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals participate in the 340B program and consider it a vital tool in helping them serve their low-income communities.

Learn more in the Becker’s Hospital Review article “HRSA launches 340B ceiling price website” and visit the new web site itself (registration required).

Filed under: 340b, Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Pressure Off 340B?

Two key House subcommittees will not hold hearings on the controversial 340B prescription drug discount program in the near future.

The chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and its Health Committee have both suggested that House Democrats understand the importance and value of the 340B program and see other health care issues as greater priorities.

This marks a serious departure from the last session of Congress, which saw a number of hearings on the 340B program and doubts cast about the program’s objectives and future.

Most Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals participate in the 340B program and consider it a vital resource in their efforts to serve their communities.

Learn more from the Lexology article “340B Program Gets Relief from Congressional Scrutiny.”

 

Filed under: 340b, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

ACA Repeal Would Drive Up Uninsured, Uncompensated Care

At the same time that the Trump administration announced that it has asked a federal court to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, the Urban Institute has published a report detailing the potential impact of the health care reform law’s repeal.

According to the Urban Institute report, repealing the entire Affordable Care Act would add almost 20 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured.  Medicaid and CHIP enrollment would fall by 15.4 million people and millions of others would lose the tax credits they used to purchase insurance.  Some would purchase insurance with limited benefits and individual plan premiums would rise while others would go uninsured.

In addition, repeal of the Affordable Care Act would lead to an 82 percent increase in hospital uncompensated care, to more than $50 billion.  About half of the states would see the amount of uncompensated care provided by their hospitals double, the Urban Institute estimates.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would pose an especially great financial challenge for Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals because they care for so many Medicaid- and CHIP-covered and low-income patients who might lose their coverage if the reform law is repealed.  About 700,000 new people have enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program since the state implemented the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion.

Learn more from the Healthcare Dive article “Killing ACA would lead to huge spikes in uncompensated care” and from the Urban Institute report State-by-State Estimates of the Coverage and Funding Consequences of Full Repeal of the ACA.

 

Filed under: Affordable Care Act, Federal Medicaid issues, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Medicaid Transportation Services in Jeopardy?

The White House has proposed removing non-emergency transportation from the list of mandatory Medicaid benefits.

The proposed FY 2020 budget released last week explained that

Statute allows, but does not require, States to provide non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT).  Instead, these services were made mandatory Medicaid benefits by regulation.  Further, a Government Accountability Office study found Medicaid NEMT spending totaled $1.5 billion in 2013, and NEMT programs face multiple challenges, including difficulties in obtaining costs and maintaining program integrity.  To address these issues, this proposal would update regulations to clarify the NEMT benefit is strictly optional.

Medical transportation has long been viewed as vital means for helping Medicaid patients keep doctors’ appointments and recover from their illnesses and injuries and for overcoming some social determinants of health.  Loss of this tool would be harmful for Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals and the patients and communities they serve.

Filed under: Federal Medicaid issues

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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania