Posts Tagged ‘National Association of State Medicaid Directors’

Medicaid Expansion Could Insure 20 Million Americans

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Medicaid expansion could provide healthcare coverage to 20 million lower-income Americans.  As healthcare reform is ushered in over the next few years, Medicaid will play a leading role in bringing coverage to as many as 20 million Americans who don’t have the resources to buy insurance on their own.  “Medicaid is finally living up to its role of serving as the healthcare safety net for poor and lower-income individuals and families,” said Jennifer Tolbert, principal policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Healthy adults under the age of 65 will qualify for Medicaid starting in 2014 if they earn $14,404 in current dollars for a single person or $29,326 for a family of four.  That adds up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  Most asset requirements will be abolished, so people who lose their jobs can get health coverage even if they own a home or have money saved for retirement.  Bringing as many as 20 million people into the Medicaid system is a herculean task, even though four years have been set aside to make the changes necessary to make enrollment easier.  Many Americans don’t even know that they will be eligible, and it is the states’ responsibility to inform them.

“We’re pretty busy, I can tell you that,” said Ann Kohler, director of health services with the American Public Human Services Association, which administers the National Association of State Medicaid Directors.  “Many of my members opposed the bill and still do, frankly.  But it is the law, and we’re working hard to get it implemented.”  The most frequently cited obstacles include the fact that many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid payments because it doesn’t reimburse as much as private plans or Medicare.  Additionally, filing claims involves significant paperwork and lengthy payment delays.

The federal government is sweetening the pot for physicians by increasing Medicaid payments for primary care to Medicare levels in 2013 and 2014.  That may not be enough, though.  Physicians prefer to avoid Medicaid patients because they tend to be sicker than insured patients, miss appointments and do not cooperate with treatment plans.