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Clay’s Weekly Medicaid Roundup: Week of February 29th (Leap year!), 2016

MI COVERING HEP C DRUGS IN MCD- We covered the lawsuit in WA to cover these on the last monthly news show. Looks like MI is pre-empting a suit and has decided to cover the insanely pricey drugs in Mcd. State reps approved a budget for it (I don’t know how much yet) this week.

ITS A MANDATE! The Good Guvn’r Hutchison of AR is looking at pro-expansion Republicans winning in primaries this week as a mandate for his expansion plan. Not so fast so wonks in the state. Voters think about other things besides expansion (and usually they don’t care near as much about Medicaid as those of us who make our living off Medicaid wish they would).

DETAILS EMERGING ON TARHEEL STATE TRANSFORMATION PLAN- Based on presentations in the NC General Assembly this week, it looks like Mcd bennies will be able to choose from 1 of 4 MCOs – in about 3 years. CMS is expected to get the official proposal by June 1.

PLAN PROTESTS IN THE PEACH STATE POOH-POOHED- Its a rainy night in GA for AmeriChoice (UHC), Humana and AmeriHealth Caritas. GA Dpt of Administrative Services just threw out their protest over losing bids for the ginormous MCO business awarded recently. New contracts for Amerigroup, Peach State, WellCare and CareSource were set to start July 1, but the latest I have heard is that the implementation date is now Jan 1, 2017. Anyone who knows why, please write in and let me know.

AK JUDGE DISMISSES ANTI-EXPANSIONERS SUIT- The plaintiffs (legislators) sued, saying that the expansion population was optional, and any optional Mcd spending had to be approved by them. The Judge looked at the decision by the SCOTUS that said states could not be penalized for not exercising the option to expand – and then he concluded that Mcd expansion in AK somehow was mandatory and could be done with only the Good Guvn’rs approval. I think this quote from a local newspaper explains the Judge’s misunderstanding best: “Because the Social Security Act requires expansion, state law makes the expansion group eligible for Medicaid services. Because existing law required the governor to provide Medicaid to the expansion group, the governor did not violate the Alaska Constitution by doing so.” Judge Piffner – if you are Roundup reader please call / write in so we can discuss.

SD REPS REMOVE GUVN’RS ABILITY TO STOP EXPANSION- A move to require legislative approval for expansion was killed in committee this week. Make sure you read this slowly- a state legislature (that’s the “legislative branch” for those who have never had a “civics” class) just voluntarily decided to limit their own power and defer to the Guvn’r (the “executive branch”). Maybe I misunderstand my own education about checks and balances. Is it that the legislature is really good at writing checks, and the executive branch’s main job is to make sure the balance of power swings their way?

NE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO PAY FOR EXPANSION. HAS ANYONE CALLED BERNIE? Looks like NE needs to come up with $112M in state dollars to pay for 5 years of expanded Mcd. Fun comparison – that’s about $22M/ yr. Average teacher salary in NE is $50k. So NE could hire 440 new teachers, or expand Mcd. Easy choice. Everybody knows Mcd beats out all other priorities, every single time.

MI GETS APPROVAL FOR MOST SPECIFIC MCD EXPANSION EVER- CMS approved expanding Mcd to kids in Flint, MI in households up to 400% FPL this week. An estimated 15,000 new members will be eligible. All this is to help address the water crisis and related health impact in the area, so the expansion is not only narrow in scope but also (likely) time limited.

That’s it for this week. As always, please send me a note with your thoughts to clay@mostlymedicaid.com or give me a buzz at 919.727.9231. Get outside (its almost time to plant!) and keep running the race (you know who you are).

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