Budget & Appropriations – Rescissions Packages Defeated in Senate

On June 20, the Senate failed to pass a rescissions package (H.R.3) by a vote of 48-50. This package would rescind $15.3 billion in appropriated funds, nearly half of which come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The decision to rescind funding from CHIP could have destabilized the program and limited a state’s ability to respond to issues such as natural disaster, large layoffs due to plant closures, or an overall economic slowdown.

Congress Adjusts Medicare Reimbursement

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a permanent fix to the reimbursement rates for Medicare providers, sending the measure to be signed by President Obama. If Congress had not acted, Medicare health care providers faced a 21% cut to their reimbursement. In addition to permanently fixing the reimbursement problem, the legislation extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years, and extends the therapy cap exceptions process.  Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) offered an amendment to eliminate the therapy caps. The amendment failed by two votes to reach the 60 vote threshold needed to be included in the legislation.  The bill also permanently extends the Qualified Individual (QI) program under the Medicare program, which helps low-income Medicare beneficiaries pay for premiums and permanently extends the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program, which helps families on Medicaid maintain their coverage for one year as they transition from welfare to work.

House to Hold Hearing on Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

On Tuesday Dec 2nd, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on “The Future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program” (CHIP). CHIP provides affordable health coverage for millions of children across the United States, including many children with disabilities. The program originally began in 1997 and was reauthorized in 2009 to expand eligibility and provide states with additional tools to successfully meet the needs of uninsured children. Visit the Committee’s web site to learn more and to view live video on the day of the hearing.

Legislation Introduced to Extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program

Congress is considering what actions to take regarding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CHIP was enacted in 1997 and after FY 2015 there will be no new funds for the program.  CHIP has had bipartisan support and has helped expand affordable health insurance coverage to low and moderate income children.  Earlier this summer, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced S. 2461 to extend the program for four years.  Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.  Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) joined Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) in sending a letter to governors asking for input on extending the program and seeking additional information about enrollment and design of each state program. The Arc has supported the CHIP program and will be closely monitoring Congressional actions.

Grants announced to identify and enroll kids for Medicaid and CHIP

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $40 million in grants for efforts to identify and enroll children eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Grants were awarded to 39 state agencies, community health centers, school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 23 states. The two-year grants are authorized under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009. Learn more about the grants.

MACPAC releases first report to Congress

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its first report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP. MACPAC was created to provide policy recommendations to Congress on how to achieve greater value in Medicaid and CHIP and to ensure program accountability. The report provides information on how Medicaid and CHIP operate, outlines how these programs fit into the larger context of the U.S. health care system, and lays the groundwork for future MACPAC recommendations.

CMS issues State Medicaid Director Letter on Maintenance of Effort Provisions

CMS released a letter providing guidance on “the maintenance of effort” (MOE) provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.  Some states have been seeking ways to avoid the ACA’s MOE – the requirement to maintain their current Medicaid eligibility criteria and services until 2014. The letter and the enclosed Q&As address the ACA’s MOE provisions for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) generally. It also answers specific questions related to the non-application of the MOE provisions for certain adult populations in States with a budget deficit, section 1115 waivers and demonstration projects, and the treatment of premiums.  Click here for the press release. See the letter at http://nasuad.org/documentation/newsroom/friday_updates/MOE%20Letter%20for%20Display.pdf