Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH) are not getting to the hospitals that need them most, according to the independent agency that advises Congress and the administration on Medicaid access, payment, and care delivery issues.
In its March 2016 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission found
…little meaningful relationship between DSH allotments and three aspects of DSH payments that Congress asked us to study: 1) the relationship of state DSH allotments to data relating to changes in the number of uninsured individuals, 2) data relating to the amount and sources of hospitals’ uncompensated care costs, and 3) data identifying hospitals with high levels of uncompensated care that also provide access to essential community services for low-income, uninsured, and vulnerable populations.
Although early reports suggest that the coverage expansions are improving hospital finances in general, it is not yet clear how hospitals that are particularly reliant on Medicaid DSH payments are being affected.
MACPAC further maintains that
…DSH allotments and payments should be better targeted, consistent with their original statutory intent.
Noting an obstacle to such an undertaking, MACPAC
…recommends that the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] collect and report hospital-specific data on all types of Medicaid payments for all hospitals that receive them. In addition, the Secretary should collect and report data on the sources of non-federal share necessary to determine net Medicaid payment at the provider level.
Finally, MACPAC promises to continue looking into this challenge and exploring possible solutions.
In future reports on DSH payment policy, which MACPAC will include in its annual March reports to Congress, the Commission will continue to monitor the ACA’s effect on hospitals receiving DSH payments. We also plan to explore potential approaches to improving targeting of federal Medicaid DSH funding, including modifying the criteria for DSH payment eligibility, redefining uncompensated care for Medicaid DSH purposes, and rebasing states DSH allotments.
To learn more about what MACPAC had to say about Medicaid DSH and other Medicaid- and CHIP-related issues, go here to see the MACPAC report March 2016 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP.