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MACPAC Looks at Medicaid DSH

At a time when cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH) are still scheduled for the current fiscal year and some in Congress are calling for a new approach to allotting DSH funds among the states, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has released its annual analysis of Medicaid DSH allotments to the states.

The report includes:

  • data about changes in the uninsured rate
  • demographic information about the uninsured
  • information about the cost of hospital uncompensated care
  • perspectives on hospital Medicaid shortfalls
  • a comparison of hospital uncompensated care costs when calculated using different methodologies
  • data about hospitals that provide “essential community services”
  • information about scheduled Medicaid DSH allotment reductions

All private safety-net hospitals receive Medicaid DSH payments and consider the program an essential tool for serving their communities.

MACPAC will issue a more complete report to Congress in March of 2020.

Learn more about how MACPAC views Medicaid DSH at a time when the program is scheduled to change – and when some want even more change – in the new MACPAC document “Required Analyses of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Allotments.”

 

MACPAC Meets

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met for two days last week in Washington, D.C.

The following is MACPAC’s own summary of the sessions.

The Commission devoted its Thursday morning discussion to integration of care for beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Panelists Amber Christ, directing attorney at Justice in Aging; Griffin Myers, chief medical officer at Oak Street Health; and Michael Monson, senior vice president for Medicaid and complex care at Centene, presented beneficiary, provider, and health plan perspectives and a question and answer session followed.

After lunch, MACPAC staff briefed the Commission on challenges states face as they prepare for mandatory reporting of quality measures for children enrolled in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and behavioral health measures for adults enrolled in Medicaid. Immediately following that session, the Commission reviewed a new MACPAC-commissioned study on the effects of federal legislation that provided new buprenorphine prescribing authority for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

After a brief break, MACPAC staff updated the Commission on the status of the Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS). The final Thursday session discussed disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments as required in MACPAC’s annual March reports to Congress.

MACPAC’s Friday agenda opened with a session on improving Medicaid policies related to third-party liability: specifically, coordination of benefits with TRICARE, the health coverage program for active duty military and their dependents. There are close to 1 million Medicaid beneficiaries with TRICARE coverage but Medicaid’s ability to collect from TRICARE is limited. The final session of the October meeting addressed Medicaid and maternal health.

Supporting the discussion were the following briefing papers:

  1. State Readiness to Report Mandatory Core Set Measures
  2. Analysis of Buprenorphine Prescribing Patterns among Advanced Practitioners in Medicaid
  3. Update on Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS)
  4. Required Analyses of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Allotments
  5. Improving Medicaid Policies Related to Third-Party Liability
  6. Medicaid and Maternal Health: Work Plan and Further Discussion

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 variety of issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  MACPAC’s deliberations are especially important to private safety-net hospitals because those hospitals care for especially large numbers of Medicaid patients.  Find MACPAC’s web site here.

MACPAC Looks at Medicaid Substance Abuse Treatment

The treatment of substance abuse problems with medication within the Medicaid population is the subject of a new report by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

As required by the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, which was enacted last year, MACPAC has prepared a report on how selected states administer and regulate the use of medications used to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Among its findings:

  • The frequency with which providers are prescribing medication to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders has exploded in recent years.
  • States are starting to eliminate prior authorization for such prescriptions.
  • But states still apply utilization management practices to such medications more frequently than they do for counseling for the same problems.
  • States are becoming more likely to limit the quantities and doses that providers can prescribe at one time.
  • More states are requiring providers to check prescription drug monitoring programs before prescribing medications to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Private safety-net hospitals typically care for especially large numbers of  patients with opioid and alcohol use disorders who are insured by Medicaid.

Learn more about MACPAC’s findings in its new report “MACPAC Examines Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment under Medicaid.”

 

MACPAC Seeks Input on IMDs

A 2018 law calls for the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission to report to Congress on institutions for mental diseases, or IMDs, receiving Medicaid payments.  The law specifies that MACPAC solicit input from a variety of sources, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, state Medicaid and mental health agencies and authorities, Medicaid insurers, Medicaid advocates, and others.

To help fulfill this requirement, MACPAC is now soliciting views from stakeholders.  Among the many subjects on which MACPAC seeks input are (in MACPAC’s words),

  • state requirements, including certification, licensure and accreditation applied to IMDs seeking Medicaid payment and how states determine if requirements have been met;
  • standards (e.g., quality standards, facility standards, and clinical standards) that IMD providers must meet in order to receive Medicaid payment and how the state determines if standards have been met;
  • a description of IMDs receiving Medicaid payment including the number of these facilities, and the types of services provided; and
  • a description of Medicaid funding authorities used to pay IMDs and any coverage limitations placed on the scope, duration or frequency of services provided in IMDs.

MACPAC’s report to Congress is due at the end of the year and comments on the issues outlined above are due to MACPAC by May 31.  Learn more from this MACPAC request for comment.

MACPAC Recommends Changes in Medicaid Shortfall Definition

Hospitals’ calculation of their Medicaid shortfall would change under a recommendation that MACPAC voted to make to Congress.  That change, in turn, could affect hospitals’ future Medicaid disproportionate share payments.

Last week the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission voted overwhelmingly to change how hospitals calculate their Medicaid shortfall:  the difference between what they spend caring for their Medicaid patients and what Medicaid pays them for that care.  Under MACPAC’s proposal, hospitals would need to deduct from their shortfall total all third-party payments they receive for the care they provide to their Medicaid patients.

If this proposal were to be adopted, it has the potential of changing Medicaid DSH allocations among the states and change the distribution of Medicaid DSH funds within individual states, although the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would have little impact on either measure.

Complicating the MACPAC recommendation is last year’s federal court ruling that third-party payments could not be deducted from hospitals’ Medicaid shortfall totals because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lacks the authority to implement such a policy.  Making such a change therefore would require action by Congress.

Learn more about the MACPAC recommendation and its potential implications for hospitals and their Medicaid DSH payments in the Fierce Healthcare article “’Medicaid shortfall’ definition should change when tallying DSH payments, MACPAC says.”

 

MACPAC Meets

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met for two days last week in Washington, D.C.

The following is MACPAC’s own summary of the sessions.

The Commission wrapped up its work on the June 2019 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP at the April meeting, with sessions reviewing four of the report’s five draft chapters on Thursday morning, and votes on potential recommendations later in the afternoon.

First on Thursday’s agenda was a draft June chapter on Medicaid prescription drug policy, which contained draft recommendations to provide states with a grace period to determine Medicaid drug coverage and raise the cap on rebates. The Commission then revisited hospital payment policy, with a draft chapter and recommendation on how to treat third-party payment in the definition of Medicaid shortfall when determining disproportionate share hospital payments. Next, commissioners considered two recommendations proposed as part of a June chapter on improving the effectiveness of Medicaid program integrity. The final morning session addressed the Commission’s proposed recommendation on therapeutic foster care.

The Commission returned from lunch for two presentations discussing preliminary findings of forthcoming congressionally mandated reports. The first afternoon session presented initial findings from a MACPAC review of state Medicaid utilization management policies related to medication-assisted treatment, to be issued in October. The session immediately following presented preliminary findings for a January 2020 study on Medicaid standards for institutions for mental diseases. Both reports are required as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (P.L. 115-271). Votes on June 2019 recommendations closed out the day.

Friday’s sessions opened with a review of the fifth draft chapter slated for June, on Medicaid in Puerto Rico. The second session of the morning reviewed a proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in March to promote interoperability in federal health care programs. The April meeting closed with a review of evaluations of integrated care for dually eligible beneficiaries.

Supporting the discussion were the following presentations:

  1. Review of Draft Chapter for June Report and Recommendations on Prescription Drug Policy: Grace Period and Cap on Rebates
  2. Review of Draft Chapter for June Report and Proposed Medicaid Shortfall Recommendation
  3. Review of Draft Chapter on Improving the Effectiveness of Medicaid Program Integrity and Recommendations
  4. Review of Recommendation for June Report Chapter on Therapeutic Foster Care
  5. Preliminary Findings from Congressionally Mandated Study on Medication-Assisted Treatment Utilization Management Policies
  6. Preliminary Findings on Congressionally Mandated Study on Institutions for Mental Diseases
  7. Review of Draft June Report Chapter on Medicaid in Puerto Rico
  8. Review of Proposed Rule to Promote Interoperability in Federal Health Care Programs
  9. Evaluating Integrated Care: Review of Results from Literature

Because NASH members and private safety-net hospitals serve so many Medicaid patients, MACPAC’s deliberations are especially relevant to them because its recommendations often find their way into future Medicaid and CHIP policies.

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 variety of issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Find its web site here.

 

MACPAC Makes DSH, UPL Recommendations

Changes could come in Medicaid DSH and UPL payments if new MACPAC recommendations are adopted.

Last week the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission released its annual report to Congress, with most of the report focusing on its analysis and recommendations for policy updates involving Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH) and Medicaid upper payment limit payments (UPL payments).

With Affordable Care Act-mandated cuts in Medicaid DSH payments scheduled to start in FY 2020 – this coming October – MACPAC recommended that these cuts be reduced and phased in over a longer period of time “…to give states and hospitals more time to respond to the cuts…”

MACPAC also recommended that Congress and the administration revise the current methodology for distributing Medicaid DSH money to the states to “…provide a stronger link between the distribution of those allotments and measures of hospital uncompensated care…”

The commission also addressed UPL payments, expressing concern about “…the discrepancy between reporting by states to show that they are complying with the UPL and the spending data they report to claim federal matching funds” and recommending “…instituting better data and process controls to ensure that state reporting on compliance with UPL lines up with those amounts they are claiming, and existing limits are enforced.

Medicaid DSH and UPL payments are especially important to NASH and private safety-net hospitals because of the significant number of low-income, Medicaid-covered, and uninsured patients they serve.

Learn more from MACPAC’s news release summarizing its recommendations and the entire MACPAC annual report.

“Medicaid Shortfall” Definition Changing?

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission last week discussed possible changes in how “Medicaid shortfall” is defined for the purpose of determining how much Medicaid disproportionate share money (Medicaid DSH) safety-net hospitals should receive.

The discussion came in the wake of a court decision last year that ruled that third-party payments toward Medicaid-covered services could not be included in hospitals’ Medicaid shortfall calculations.

MACPAC commissioners discussed several statutory changes that would seek to minimize the impact of the court ruling:

  • Include third-party payments in the definition of Medicaid shortfall.
  • Exclude from the Medicaid DSH definition of Medicaid shortfall all payments and costs for patients who have third-party coverage.
  • Explore new rules that address different types of third-party coverage.

MACPAC is an advisory body whose recommendations to Congress are not binding but its views are respected and often find their way into future public policy.

This subject is important to private safety-net hospitals because the vast majority of those hospitals receive Medicaid DSH payments.

Learn more about MACPAC’s deliberations on Medicaid shortfalls and Medicaid DSH from the Fierce Healthcare article “MACPAC considers recommending change to definition of ‘Medicaid shortfall’ at safety net hospitals.”

 

Protections Overlooked as Medicaid Reforms are Implemented

In its eagerness to help states introduce changes in their Medicaid programs and reduce administrative burdens, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is ignoring regulatory requirements designed to understand and measure the impact of those changes on beneficiaries.

According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, many states seeking to implement Medicaid work requirements have not projected how many of their beneficiaries would be affected by those requirements nor have they projected how many beneficiaries who are removed from the Medicaid rolls will gain employment after losing their Medicaid benefits.  Both projections are required under Medicaid regulations adopted in 2012, which call for states to assess the anticipated impact of proposed policy changes when seeking federal permission to implement such changes.

Similarly, many states have not proposed commissioning independent assessments to determine the impact of the Medicaid changes they have implemented with CMS’s approval – another requirement under 2012 regulations.

When pressed to explain its failure to enforce these regulations, according to the Times, CMS said only that regulations “…do not require that states provide precise numerical estimates of coverage impacts…” and that it is developing strategies for states to evaluate the impact of new work requirements.  The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar about Medicaid disenrollment in states with new work requirements but after three months, Secretary Azar has not responded to MACPAC’s inquiry.

Medicaid disenrollment is a particular challenge for private safety-net hospitals because they serve more Medicaid patients than most hospitals and patients who lose their Medicaid coverage and need hospital care typically cannot afford to pay for that care, leaving such hospitals with growing amounts of uncompensated care.

Learn more about the process for reviewing state requests to implement Medicaid work requirements and CMS’s enforcement of regulations governing its approval of such requirements in the Los Angeles Times article “In rush to revamp Medicaid, Trump officials bend rules that protect patients.”

 

MACPAC: Slow Medicaid DSH Cuts

Slow the pace of scheduled cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH), the non-partisan agency that advises Congress and the administration will tell Congress in its next report of policy recommendations.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission voted 16-1 recently to recommend to Congress that Medicaid DSH cuts, mandated by the Affordable Care Act but delayed three times by Congress, be reduced in size and spread out over a longer period of time.

Currently, Medicaid DSH allotments to the states are scheduled to be reduced $4 billion in FY 2020 and then $8 billion a year in FY 2021 through FY 2025.  MACPAC recommends that the cuts be reduced to $2 billion in FY 2020, $4 billion in FY 2021, $6 billion in FY 2022, and $8 billion a year from FY 2023 through FY 2029.

MACPAC commissioners also voted to urge Congress to restructure the manner in which Medicaid DSH allotments to the states are calculated based on the number of low-income individuals who reside in the states.

Most private safety-net hospitals receive Medicaid DSH payments and consider them a vital resource in helping to underwrite the uncompensated care they provide to uninsured patients.  NASH supports delaying the implementation of Medicaid DSH cuts and reducing the size of the cuts once implementation begins, doing so most recently in a letter to Senator Marco Rubio in response to Mr. Rubio’s introduction of Medicaid DSH legislation.

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 State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Learn more about MACPAC’s actions on Medicaid DSH in the Fierce Healthcare article “MACPAC calls for Congress to delay cuts to safety-net hospitals.”