Posted by kemanuel
It is still unclear whether the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or H.R. 1628, will be signed into law. On March 6, 2017, the House Energy & Commerce Committee (E&C) and Ways & Means Committee (W&M) officially released the draft bill. The latest action was on April 6, 2017, H.Res.254 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) was placed on the House calendar. The rule provides for further consideration of H.R. 1628. The rule also provides that the further amendment printed Rules Committee Report 115-88 shall be considered as adopted.
So what exactly would AHCA change in relation to Medicaid?
For over fifty (50) years, states have created and implemented Medicaid programs entirely dependent on federal contributions. Medicaid is based on federal law. Although each individual state may have slight variances in the Medicaid program, because the state Medicaid programs must follow federal law, the state Medicaid programs are surprisingly similar. An example of a slight variance is that some Medicaid services are voluntary, like personal care services (PCS); some states offer PCS paid by Medicaid and others do not.
Currently, the federal government does not cap the federal contribution. However much a state spends – no matter how exorbitant – the federal government will match (at whatever percentage allotted for that state). For example, the federal government pays 66.2% of North Carolina’s Medicaid spending. Which means, BTW, that $264,800.00 of Cardinal’s CEO’s salary is funded by the federal government. These percentages are called Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP).
All this may change under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or H.R. 1628, as approved by the House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Budget, and Rules Committees.
The AHCA proposes many changes from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) germane to Medicaid. In my humble opinion, some of the replacements are stellar; others are not. No one (sane and logical) could argue that the ACA was perfect legislation for providers, employers, or recipients. It was not. It mandated that employers pay for health care insurance for their employees, which caused the number of part-time workers to explode. The ACA mandated the states to suspend Medicaid reimbursements upon a credible allegation of fraud, which, basically, could be a disgruntled employee lying with an anonymous accusation. This provision put many providers out of business without due process (Remember New Mexico?). The ACA also put levers in place that meant younger policyholders were subsidizing older ones. Healthy, young adults were paying for older adults. The ACA reduced payments for Medicare Advantage plans, hospitals, and other providers to save money. There was also a provider shortage due to the low reimbursement rates and regulatory audits. The Affordable Care Act was anything but affordable. At least the American Health Care Act does not protest itself to be affordable.
Here are some of the most poignant “repeal and replace” items in Trump-caid:
1. Health Savings Accounts
The AHCA will encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts by increasing annual tax free contribution limits. It will also modify ACA premium tax credits for 2018-2019 to increase the amount for younger adults and to reduce the amount for older adults. In 2020, the AHCA will replace ACA income-based tax credits with flat tax credits adjusted for age. Eligibility for new tax credits phases out at income levels between $75,000 and $115,000.
2. Cap on federal contributions
Beginning in 2020, the AHCA would cap federal contributions to state Medicaid programs. This will result in huge federal savings, but cause severe shortages on the state level. The federal per-enrollee caps would be based on states’ Medicaid expenditures in 2016, trended forward to 2019. A uniform, federal capped system would provide fiscal security for the federal government and shift the risk of over spending on the states.
The following categories would be exempt from the per-capita allotments (i.e. paid for outside of the per-capita caps): DSH payments, administrative payments, individuals covered under CHIP Medicaid expansion program or who receive medical assistance from an IHS facility, breast and cervical cancer patients, and partial benefit-enrollees
With the risk on the states, there is a high probability that optional Medicaid services, such as PCS, may be cut from the budget. If PCS were eliminated, more patients would enter long-term care facilities and fewer patients would be able to remain in their homes. The House bill essentially eliminates the enhanced funding levels that made possible states’ expansion of Medicaid to their poorest working-age adult residents. In all, 31 states expanded Medicaid under the ACA. While the House Bill does not prohibit Medicaid expansion; expansion will be difficult to remain funded by the states.
3. Presumptive eligibility program
The House bill would end the ACA’s special hospital presumptive eligibility program, under which hospitals can temporarily enroll patients who “appear” to be eligible and begin to get paid for their care while their full applications are pending. (What in the world does “appear to be eligible” mean. Is it similar to profiling?)
4. Home equity and eligibility
Under current law, states disregard the value of a home when determining Medicaid eligibility for an individual in need of long-term community-supported care. The bill would take away this state flexibility, capping the equity value at $500,000.
5. Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments
The AHCA would repeal the Medicaid DSH reductions set in motion by the ACA in 2018 for non-expansion States, and 2020 for expansion states.
6. Section 1115 Waivers
States with Waivers will not be penalized for having a Waiver. In other words, the expenses and payments under the Waiver will be treated in the same manner as if the state did not have a Waiver. However, if a state’s waiver contains payment limitations, the limitations in the new law, not the Waiver, apply.
Again, the future of the AHCA is uncertain. We all remain watchful. One change that I would like to see is that due process is afforded to providers prior to suspension of all funds when there is a credible allegation of fraud.
Posted in Access to Care, Affordable Care Act, Alleged Overpayment, Audits, CMS, Decrease in Medicaid Spending, DHHS, Due process, Eligibilty, Federal Government, Federal Law, Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, Gordon & Rees, Health Care Providers and Services, HHS, Home Health Care Agencies, Home Health Services, Hospitals, Knicole Emanuel, Legal Analysis, Legal Remedies for Medicaid Providers, Legislation, Long Term Care Facilities, Medicaid, Medicaid Advocate, Medicaid Appeals, Medicaid Attorney, Medicaid Audits, Medicaid Billing, Medicaid Budget, Medicaid Contracts, Medicaid Costs, Medicaid Eligibility, Medicaid Expansion, Medicaid Funds, Medicaid Providers, Medicaid Reform, Medicaid Reimbursements, Medicaid Services, Medicaid Spending, Obamacare, Personal Care Services, Post-Payment Reviews, Suspension of Medicaid Payments, Tax Dollars, Taxes, Taxpayers
Tags: Affordable Care Act, AHCA, AHCA and Medicaid, American Health Care Act, Credible Allegations of Fraud, Disproportionate share hospital payments, DSH payments, Federal contributions, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, H.R. 1628, Health savings accounts, Hospitals and Medicaid, Long Term Care Facilities, Medicaid, Medicaid Eligibility, Medicaid eligibility and home equity, Medicaid Expansion, Medicaid waivers, Personal Care Services, Presumptive eligibility program, Section 1115 Waivers