With all the attention being paid to the midterm elections causing ACA Medicaid expansion to be passed in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho (while also now being at risk in Alaska and Montana), I've kind of lost track of the situation in Virginia, where it was expanded last May to over 400,000 Virginians.
Less than two weeks after Virginia opened registration for its expanded Medicaid program, officials say they’ve already drawn thousands more applicants than initially anticipated.
The state had expected the new program to enroll 300,000 over the next year and a half. They now expect that number to reach 375,000. The new estimates won’t alter the total expansion population, which the state has said will be about 400,000.
...For many low-income families, the Arkansas experiment has already proved disastrous. More than 12,000 have been purged from the state Medicaid rolls since September — and not necessarily because they’re actually failing to work 80 hours a month, as the state requires.
...McGonigal, like most non-disabled, nonelderly Medicaid recipients, had a job. Full time, too, at a chicken plant.
...More important, McGonigal’s prescription medication — funded by the state’s Medicaid expansion, since his job didn’t come with health insurance — kept his symptoms in check.
I just realized that while I've written quite a bit about the potential loss of Medicaid coverage for thousands of residents of Michigan, Kentucky and Arkansas over the past few months due to the new work requirement laws in those states, It's been far too long since I've given a shout-out to the four states which are hoping to add Medicaid expansion (or at least continue it, in one case) exactly one week from today.
For years, elected leaders in conservative states have resisted expanding Medicaid, the government health program for low-income Americans. Now voters in four of those states will decide the question directly.
As I've written about many times before, my home state of Michigan is, unfortunately, among the states which are trying to institute work requirements for ACA Medicaid expansion for 680,000 Michiganders. As I've also written about many times before, work requirements for Medicaid are not only burdensome and cruel, they're counterproductive in terms of efficiency, economics and even in the stated goal of such programs, which is supposedly to "inspire" low-income people to get a job.
“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”
--Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Yesterday CMS Administrator Seema Verma posted this on Twitter...
I’m excited by the partnerships that Arkansas has fostered to connect Medicaid beneficiaries to work and educational opportunities, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as we thoroughly evaluate the results of their innovative reforms. #TransformingMedicaid
A Lancaster County District judge has dismissed a challenge to the Medicaid expansion petition initiative, allowing the initiative to be placed on the November ballot.
The lawsuit was brought by former state Sen. Mark Christensen and Sen. Lydia Brasch. They alleged the initiative was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority, contained more than one subject, which the state Constitution prohibits, and that it failed to identify Nebraska Appleseed as a sworn sponsor.
Last week, Secretary of State John Gale confirmed that enough signatures were gathered by petition circulators to put the question of whether to expand Medicaid to about 90,000 uninsured adult Nebraskans on the Nov. 6 ballot.
...The campaign has said Medicaid expansion will create and sustain 10,000 new jobs, reduce medical bankruptcies, bring $1.1 billion of Nebraskans’ tax dollars back from Washington, D.C., and produce savings by reducing uncompensated care for those who lack health coverage.
Hot on the heels of Anthem's announcement that they're significantly expanding their ACA market coverage throughout Virginia comes another piece of welcome news:
Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration will convene a new work group on Monday to consider options to stabilize soaring premiums in Virginia’s health insurance market.
The Virginia Market Stability Group will consider a wide range of options to lower insurance premiums expected to average more than $833 a month next year, making coverage unaffordable to people who don’t qualify for federal subsidies for premiums or out-of-pocket expenses in the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.
...But one option could trump all others — a state budget plan to request a federal waiver for a “re-insurance” program in Virginia that would help defray the costs for the most expensive patients and relieve the expense for others by lowering the risk.
Snyder signs 80-hour Medicaid work requirement law
Most adult Medicaid recipients who receive health care insurance through the state’s Healthy Michigan plan will be required to work at least 80 hours per month or risk losing coverage under a new law signed Friday by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Five years after he led the push to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act, Snyder signed the new work requirements over protests from Democrats and advocacy groups who decried it as a legislative effort to strip health insurance from low-income residents.
...“The original estimates were that 400,000 people without health care would be able to obtain it after the creation of Healthy Michigan, and today more than 670,000 people have coverage. I am committed to ensuring the program stays in place and that Michiganders continue to live healthier lives because of it.”
The revised version of the bill still has to be kicked back over to the state Senate for a final vote, but that's almost certain to pass, so the only thing stopping it at this point is the possibility of Gov. Rick Snyder vetoing it, which is what I figured it would come down to in the the first place.
A state court in Maine has ruled that Gov. Paul LePage (R) must submit the paperwork necessary to move forward on expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to cover about 70,000 more low-income people in the state.
In her ruling, state judge Michaela Murphy slammed LePage’s health department for unilaterally blocking the expansion’s implementation since voters overwhelmingly approved it by ballot initiative last November.
“The Court concludes that the Commissioner’s complete failure to act cannot be considered substantial compliance,” she wrote, ordering the governor to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal government by June 11.
It wasn’t immediately known whether LePage planned to appeal the decision.
PREDICTION: Yeah, he will. He's out of office in seven months, and I'm willing to bet he's gonna continue doing everything possible to drag this out until his replacement takes office in January.
Apparently it still has to be kicked back to the state Assembly for a final vote, but it appears to be a done deal at last:
The Virginia Senate just passed Medicaid expansion, which three Republicans joining all 19 Democrats voting in favor. The House, which already passed expansion, has to vote again. We'll have more later, but here's the backstory. https://t.co/ldFEb5vYyt
Elections have consequences: To get enough GOP votes, this Medicaid expansion includes a work requirement and premiums above the poverty line, which will cut into coverage gains. Virginia must continue the fight.