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Rodney Whitlock is a veteran health care policy professional with more than 20 years of experience working with the US Congress, where he served as health policy advisor and as Acting Health Policy Director for Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and, earlier, on the staff of former US Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia. Rodney has been deeply engaged in health care reform legislation. In 2010, he became the Acting Health Policy Director for Senator Grassley, and shepherded the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 into law.

On May 23, the White House released its 2018 budget proposal, outlining its priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. In health care, the President has proposed cuts to several agencies and programs. The Administration’s annual budget is seen as a statement of policy, not necessarily a legislative proposal certain to become law. That said, ML Strategies has summarized the highlights from the Health and Human Services Budget that are worth monitoring as Congress begins its work on the FY 2018 budget.  The summary is available here. ML Strategies will continue its coverage here of ongoing health care issues on Capitol Hill that will need to be addressed later this year, such as the FY18 budget and the Health Care Minibus.

shutterstock_573245464In a recent post we noted that the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood, Home Visiting (MIECHV) program is one of the many potential riders on the health care minibus. In contrast to an omnibus bill, the “minibus” refers to a handful of policy provisions tied together in one piece of legislation.  This minibus will carry a number of provisions into law.  How many riders will be onboard the minibus and when the minibus leaves the station remain to be seen.

In this post we provide additional details on the structure, funding, and evaluation of the MIECHV program. Future posts will review additional details of other potential riders on the minibus. Continue Reading MIECHV: A Minibus Rider

ML Strategies has provided a Spring Cheat Sheet previewing the coming months in health care policy in the 115th Congress.  The Cheat Sheet addresses attempts to amend the American Health Care Act, funding for the federal government, the heath insurance marketplace, FDA user fee acts, and the health care minibus.  The full Cheat Sheet is available here.  Stay tuned for upcoming coverage of the health care policy actions (and inactions) in Washington, D.C.

shutterstock_573245464Welcome to Spring Break! That time of the year where college kids head to a beach somewhere, families pack up for some tourist trap to spend lots of money, and Congress gets out of DC and goes back home.  This is also a time to consider where we are and where we are heading in terms of health care policy.  We will continue to hear of potential policies aiming to unify Republicans on health care reform, but until we see substantive policy changes that get members to change their votes from the American Health Care Act, this is all talk.  However, there is a health care minibus coming.  The “minibus” refers to a handful of policy provisions tied together in one piece of legislation.  This minibus will carry a number of provisions into law.  How many riders will be onboard the minibus remains to be seen. Continue Reading The Health Care Minibus

While we continue to monitor Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, we are also monitoring CMS’s efforts to implement the administration’s Medicaid program goals without Congressional action.  The future of the Medicaid program depends not only on the final outcome of a repeal and replace bill, but also on the Secretary Price’s and CMS Administrator Verma’s strategy and vision for the program. In two recent Letters to Governors from Secretary Price and Administrator Verma, we see how some legislative provisions from the AHCA that are still the subject of debate could be implemented despite the lack of legislative action. Continue Reading Medicaid Reform Beyond the AHCA

In a February 24th blog post, we described Medicaid block grants and per capita caps in terms of A x B = C to demonstrate how those payment policies work.  ‘A’ is the amount a state is paid per beneficiary, ‘B’ is the number of beneficiaries in a given state, and ‘C’ is the total state payment from the federal government.  We have since been asked by numerous providers to describe the nuts and bolts of how a per capita cap, the current Medicaid financing structure in the proposed American Health Care Act, would work.  For the Medicaid provider, the nuts and bolts of how they are paid would change very little while the amount they are paid might change a lot.  Continue Reading Provider Payments Under a Medicaid Per Capita Cap

On March 6, House Republicans revealed The American Health Care Act. It is their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill changes the structure of Medicaid financing from the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) system, in which states and the federal government each pay a percentage of Medicaid funding, to a per capita system.

Under current law, states get paid by the federal government for their Medicaid programs based on the amount of services they provide.  As we stated in a previous post, that has created an incentive for states to use supplemental payment streams to maximize per service revenue.  Under a per capita cap, states will be paid based on population.  They get paid for every person on their Medicaid rolls regardless of the amount of services the individuals use.  Therefore, states will now have an incentive to maximize their rolls.

This creates what we will call “The Walking Dead problem.” Continue Reading The Walking Dead in Medicaid

money_388130419Currently, state Medicaid programs have flexibility in developing payment policies, including utilizing supplemental payments and non-federal supplemental payment mechanisms. Supplemental payments pay providers above what they receive for an individual service through Medicaid provider rates.  Supplemental payments include disproportionate share hospital (DSH) and upper payment limit (UPL) payments and are a critical funding source for many safety net providers. States can fund the non-federal share of these payments through intergovernmental transfers, provider taxes, and certified public expenditures.

However, there is limited transparency and data available on supplemental payments. As a result, states can use these funding structures to increase their total federal Medicaid match. The total percentage of federal funding for each state’s Medicaid program is often referred to as the effective Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). However, due to data limitations on supplemental payments, we do not know what any state’s effective FMAP actually is.

The American Health Care Act is the House Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Its details became available March 6th. This bill changes the structure of Medicaid supplemental payments, with the exception of DSH payments. States’ reaction to the bill will tell us more about Medicaid supplemental payments than we’ve ever known, and whether the financing system in the proposed bill will provide equivalent federal funding. Continue Reading Medicaid Supplemental Payments under The American Health Care Act

Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required coverage of individuals with incomes from 0% of the federal poverty level (FPL) through 133% of the FPL.  The requirement to cover this group was overturned in NFIB v. Sebelius.  As a result, it is now up to states to determine whether they will offer Medicaid coverage to these individuals.  This new category of eligible Medicaid beneficiaries is often referred to as childless adults.

A number of Republicans, both governors and those in Congress, have taken to using the term “able-bodied” to refer to this group.  If you are able-boded, the theory goes, the Medicaid program should reasonably expect you to work. As a result, some Medicaid expansion and Medicaid reform proposals have included work requirements as an eligibility criteria for Medicaid. We can expect this topic to continue to be raised as we get deeper into ACA reform. Continue Reading Who Are the Medicaid Able-Bodied?

In the coming weeks, it is highly likely that House Republicans will come forward with Medicaid financing reform proposals, such as block grant or a per capita cap proposal, or some combination of both. How should these proposals be evaluated? The best way to understand these proposals is through the equation A x B = C.  A is spending per person, B is the number of people, and C is total spending.  This equation helps explain the difference between per capita cap proposals and block grant proposals.  Essentially, A x B is per capita caps, while C is block grants. Both per capita caps and blocks grants have been touted by Republicans as mechanisms to rein in costs of the Medicaid program. However, the devil is in the details. Republicans will need to not only address these details head on in their Medicaid financing reform proposals, but also understand how these details will affect beneficiaries, states, and providers.

Continue Reading Medicaid Financing Reform: Per Capita Caps vs. Block Grants