MACPAC Meets

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, a non-partisan legislative branch agency that advises Congress, the administration, and the states on Medicaid and CHIP issues, met publicly in Washington, D.C. last week.

The following is MACPAC’s own summary of its two days of meetings.

The April 2018 meeting began with session on social determinants of health. Panelists Jocelyn Guyer of Manatt Health Solutions, Arlene Ash of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Kevin Moore of UnitedHealthcare Community & State discussed state approaches to financing social interventions through Medicaid. In its second morning session, the Commission reviewed a draft chapter of the June 2018 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP on the adequacy of the care delivery system for substance use disorders (SUDs) with a special focus on opioid use disorders.

In the afternoon, the Commission discussed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) March 2018 proposed rule changing the process by which states verify that Medicaid fee-for-service provider payment is sufficient to ensure access to care and agreed to submit comments to the agency. The first day of the meeting concluded with a review of the draft June chapter describing the status of managed long-term services and supports programs across the country. June chapters on Medicaid drug rebate policy and federal regulations governing confidentiality of SUD patient records were approved at the previous Commission meeting in March.

On Friday, the Commission heard from panelists Susan Barnidge, of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Judith Cash of CMS’s Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, who discussed GAO’s report on Section 1115 demonstration evaluations and CMS’s efforts to improve the evaluation process. In the final session of the day, the Commission examined issues related to upper payment limit (UPL) hospital payments, which included findings from MACPAC’s recent review of state UPL demonstrations.

MACPAC members addressed a number of policy issues during the sessions using the following presentations to guide their discussion:

  1. State Approaches to Financing Social Interventions through Medicaid
  2. Draft Chapter: Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Medicaid
  3. Proposed Rule on Exemptions to Monitoring Access in Fee for Service
  4. Draft Chapter: Managed Long-Term Services and Supports Programs
  5. Panel Discussion on Section 1115 Waiver Evaluations
  6. Uses and Oversight of Upper Payment Limit Supplemental Payments to Hospitals

MACPAC’s deliberations are especially important to private safety-net hospitals because they care for so many Medicaid and CHIP patients.

Court Rebuffs CMS on Medicaid DSH

A federal court has rejected the manner in which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collects certain Medicaid data from states in a ruling that has potential implications for eligible hospitals’ Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH).

In a case that challenged how CMS told hospitals to report third-party payments for Medicaid patients, the court ruled against CMS in two different ways:  first, it found that CMS had not interpreted a 2003 law in a manner consistent with congressional intent; and second, it ruled that CMS could not clarify its interpretation through a published FAQ rather than through regulations.

As a result of the ruling, some hospitals may get extra room under their hospital-specific Medicaid DSH limit.  For hospitals at, near, or above those caps, this could make it possible for them to receive additional Medicaid DSH payments from their state government.

This ruling could have positive implications for private safety-net hospitals that care for especially large numbers of Medicaid patients.

Learn more about the court ruling and its Medicaid DSH implications for hospitals in this RevCycle Intelligence article.

MACPAC Issues Annual Report, Recommendations to Congress

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has published its annual report and recommendations to Congress.

MACPAC’s report addresses three primary areas:  Medicaid managed care, telehealth, and Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH).

With 80 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries now enrolled in managed care plans, MACPAC offers three major recommendations for improving Medicaid managed care efforts:

  • permit states to require all of their Medicaid beneficiaries to enroll in a managed care plan
  • extend Medicaid managed care section 1915(b) waivers from two to five years
  • permit states to obtain waivers to waive freedom of choice and selective contracting restrictions

MACPAC notes the growing use of telehealth by state Medicaid programs and encourages states to continue this expansion while learning more from the efforts of one another to use telehealth effectively.

Finally, MACPAC notes that it

…continues to find little meaningful relationship across the country between DSH allotments and number of uninsured individuals, hospitals’ uncompensated care costs, and the number of hospitals providing essential community services that have high levels of uncompensated care. Total hospital charity care and bad debt continue to fall, especially in states that expanded Medicaid coverage, but Medicaid shortfall showed an uptick as a result of increased Medicaid enrollment. Now that Congress has delayed DSH allotment reductions for two years, the Commission will explore opportunities to improve the targeting of DSH payments in future reports.

MACPAC is a non-partisan legislative branch agency that provides policy and data analysis and makes recommendations to Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the states on a wide array of issues affecting Medicaid and the CHIP program.

Medicaid DSH is very important to the nation’s private safety-net hospitals so NAUH will carefully monitor the response to MACPAC’s Medicaid DSH recommendations.

Learn more about MACPAC’s recommendations to Congress in its Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP, which can be found here.

NAUH Asks Congressional Leaders to Delay Medicaid DSH Cut

Delay cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share (Medicaid DSH) allotments to states, NAUH has asked congressional leaders.

Medicaid DSH payments, which help private safety-net hospitals with the cost of caring for their low-income and uninsured patients, were slated for cuts under the Affordable Care Act in anticipation of a steep decline in the number of uninsured Americans.  While the reform law has helped millions obtain insurance, safety-net hospitals continue to serve large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients.  Recognizing this, Congress has twice delayed this Medicaid DSH cut but its moratorium on the cut ended on December 31.

Now, NAUH has asked the leaders of Congress to restore the Medicaid DSH cut delay as part of their current budget deliberations.

See NAUH’s letter to congressional leaders here.

Safety-Net Hospitals Under the Gun

Safety-net hospitals across the country – including private safety-net hospitals – face a new challenge:  adjusting to several cuts in the supplemental payments they receive from the federal government to help them serve the low-income residents of the communities in which they are located.

First there is a $2 billion cut in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH).  These are payments made to hospitals that serve especially large numbers of low-income patients.  These payments help safety-net hospitals with the unreimbursed expenses they incur caring for such patients.  This cut, mandated by the Affordable Care Act but twice delayed by Congress, took effect on January 1.  In many states the value of Medicaid DSH cuts will exceed the reductions in uninsured care that hospitals have experienced since the Affordable Care Act made health insurance more widely available.

Second there is a 28 percent cut in Medicare payments for prescription drugs dispensed through the section 340B prescription drug discount program.  This cut, too, took effect on January 1.

Finally, federal funding has lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and for community health centers.

Safety-net hospitals are considering a number of moves to offset these losses.  Among them:  reducing or eliminating services, laying off staff, discontinuing the provision of transportation assistance, and eliminating post-discharge assistance to patients.  One safety-net hospital is even considering discontinuing providing chemotherapy to cancer patients because such drugs are especially expensive and often reimbursed through the 340B program.

These cuts have serious implications both for private safety-net hospitals and for the communities they serve.

Learn more about the cuts private safety-net hospitals face, their implications, and how they might respond to them in this Stateline article.

NAUH Seeks Action on Medicaid DSH, 340B

The National Association of Urban Hospitals has written to leaders of the House and Senate asking them to reverse implementation of Affordable Care Act-mandated cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (Medicaid DSH) allotments to state and to block implementation of a federal regulation that would reduce Medicare payments to qualified participants in the section 340B prescription drug discount program by 28 percent.

See NAUH’s letter here.

The Continued Need for Medicaid DSH

While the Affordable Care Act has greatly increased the number of Americans with health insurance and reduced the demand for uncompensated care from hospitals, many hospitals still see significant numbers of uninsured patients.

Some of those patients simply have not taken advantage of the health reform law’s creation of easier access to affordable insurance while others live in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.

Hospitals that care for especially large numbers of such uninsured patients qualify for Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments, commonly referred to as Medicaid DSH.  The purpose of these payments is to help these hospitals with the unreimbursed costs they incur caring for such patients.

The Affordable Care Act calls for reducing Medicaid DSH payments to hospitals.  Many hospitals and hospital groups – including the National Association of Urban Hospitals – oppose this cut and are asking Congress to block its implementation.

The Commonwealth Fund recently published a commentary calling for delaying scheduled Medicaid DSH cuts.  Go here to see the article “Keep Harmful Cuts in Federal Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments at Bay.”

 

MACPAC Meets

The non-partisan legislative branch agency that advises Congress, the administration, and the states on Medicaid and CHIP-related issues met recently in Washington, D.C.

The following is the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission’s own summary of its meeting.

The December 2017 meeting of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission began with a brief update on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Although federal funding for the CHIP expired at the end of September, legislation to renew funding was still pending in Congress. The Commission then heard from a panel discussing state tools to manage drug utilization and spending in Medicaid. Panelists included Renee Williams, director of clinical pharmacy services for TennCare; Doug Brown, Magellan Rx Management’s vice president for Medicaid drug rebate management; and John Coster, director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Division of Pharmacy at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. At the final morning session, Commissioners reviewed a draft March 2018 report chapter on streamlining Medicaid managed care authorities. The Commission voted to approve recommendations to Congress, but deferred action on a third recommendation for further discussion at its upcoming January 2018 meeting.

In the afternoon, MACPAC staff previewed highlights from the December 2017 MACStats: Medicaid and CHIP Data Book. MACStats pulls together Medicaid and CHIP data from multiple sources that often can be difficult to find. The collection is published annually and individual tables are updated throughout the year. The Commission then reviewed the draft March report chapter on telemedicine in Medicaid, and later in the day the Commission returned to the topic of prescription drugs, to explore potential recommendations on the Medicaid drug rebate program.

The final December sessions covered MACPAC’s annual analysis of disproportionate share hospital payments (a required element of its March reports), and findings from interviews with four states to better understand how they are implementing Section 1115 Medicaid-expansion waivers.

The following presentations, many with supporting documents, were offered during the MACPAC meeting:

  1. State Strategies for Managing Prescription Drug Spending
  2. Review of March Report Chapter: Streamlining Managed Care Authorities
  3. Highlights from MACStats
  4. Review of March Report Chapter: Telemedicine in Medicaid
  5. Potential Recommendations on Medicaid Outpatient Drug Rebates
  6. Review of Draft March Report Chapter: Analyzing Disproportionate Share Hospital Allotments to States
  7. Implementation of Section 1115 Medicaid Expansion Waivers: Findings from Structured Interviews in Four States

NAUH Asks Congress to Block 340B and Medicaid DSH Cuts

Pass legislation blocking cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH) and Medicare payments made to qualified providers for prescription drugs under the section 340B prescription drug discount program, NAUH has asked the leaders of the House and Senate.

The 340B cut in question was adopted recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a Medicare new regulation adopted in the fall.  The Medicaid DSH cut is mandated by the Affordable Care Act but has twice been delayed by Congress.

See NAUH’s letter to congressional leaders here.

NAUH Asks House to Renew CHIP and Delay Medicaid DSH Cuts

In a message sent to every member of the House of Representatives, NAUH conveyed its support for key provisions in HR 3922, the Championing Healthy Kids Act.

Those provisions include renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and a two-year delay in implementation of mandatory cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share (Medicaid DSH) allotments to states.  NAUH asked House members to seek a bipartisan agreement to adopt and pay for these important measures.

See NAUH’s message to House members here.