Last week the federal Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met in Washington, D.C. and one of the subjects on its agenda was Medicaid DSH.
The Affordable Care Act mandated major reductions of Medicaid disproportionate share (Medicaid DSH) allotments to states and those reductions have been delayed by Congress several times but are now scheduled to begin in FY 2020.
At the MACPAC meeting the commission’s staff presented three proposed recommendations that address Medicaid DSH allotments; these recommendations were based on a consensus reached by MACPAC commissioners at their October meeting. Those recommendations are:
- Phase in Medicaid DSH reductions more gradually over a longer period of time.
- Apply reductions to unspent DSH funds first.
- Distribute reductions in a way that gradually improves the relationship between DSH allotments and the number of non-elderly, low-income individuals in a state.
Current regulations call for Medicaid DSH cuts to begin in FY 2020 and for DSH payments to decrease $4 billion a year in FY 2020, rising to $8 billion the following year. It appears MACPAC may suggest slowing the pace of these cuts by starting with $2 billion in cuts in FY 2020 and then raising that amount $2 billion a year through 2023, when they would reach $8 billion a year. MACPAC does not appear to prepared to suggest another delay in beginning the Medicaid DSH cuts.
As the third recommendation suggests, MACPAC is considering recommending a change in how DSH cuts are calculated on a state-by-state basis. In particular, MACPAC appears to be focusing on how better to target cuts so that Medicaid DSH money continues to reach the hospitals that most need this money. As a Medicaid expansion state, PEACH needs to pay particular attention to any such change in the methodology for determining how DSH cuts are allocated among the states.
MACPAC is expected to vote on these recommendations during its January 24-25 meetings.
All Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals participate in the Medicaid DSH program and rely heavily on these funds to serve the low-income communities in which they are located. SNAP will monitor MACPAC’s upcoming deliberations, evaluate the potential impact of any MACPAC recommendations on SNAP members, and develop and implement an appropriate legislative strategy for reaching out to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, if needed.
For a closer look at the draft MACPAC recommendations and the rationale underlying each, go here to see the presentations that guided last week’s MACPAC discussion about Medicaid DSH.