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More Cuts to Reimbursement Rates for Oregon Medicaid Providers

September 11th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 1 comment

Access to doctors accepting Medicaid is about to go from bad to worse for Oregon Medicaid recipients. This week, new cuts to reimbursement rates were announced, putting care at risk for the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians added to the Medicaid rolls under ObamaCare.

The Portland Business Journal reported this week that the Oregon Health Authority had revised the reimbursement rates – the amount paid to medical providers who treat patients covered by Medicaid – to new, lower rates for 2015.

To be fair, the amount of the rate decrease is not huge, 0.8 percent, but it comes after 975,000 new Oregonians have been added to Medicaid.

Finding quality doctors for Medicaid patients has been a problem long before ObamaCare was enacted, because the reimbursement rates allowed by the government are so much lower than a doctor can get for a privately insured or self-paying patient. In some cases, the Medicaid reimbursement rate is so low that doctors would actually lose money by treating the patient, especially when the administrative costs of complying with Medicaid’s requirements are tallied.

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Alaska Medicaid Program for Developmentally Disabled Proposes Huge Cuts

September 4th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 1 comment

One of the primary objections many have had to ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is that it puts those who need Medicaid services the most – developmentally disabled included – at risk. And just as Alaska begins to expand their program by executive action under their governor’s order, news comes that they’re going to rob funds set aside for the disabled to pay for it.

An Alaska Medicaid program that funds care for adults with developmental disabilities may cut the number of people it enrolls each year by 75 percent.

Medicaid’s Intellectual and Developmental Disability waiver pays for the home-based care of nearly 2,000 people in the state with severe disabilities.

Currently 200 people are pulled from a waiting list and granted waivers each year, according to The Peninsula Clarion. Administrators have proposed dropping that number to 50.

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ObamaCare’s Cadillac Tax Could Kill FSAs

September 2nd, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

One of the few popular aspects of today’s health insurance plans are flexible spending accounts, commonly known as FSAs. These accounts are often part of insurance plans offered by employers and are even used to entice potential employees. FSAs “allow people to save their own money tax free for everything from doctor co-pays to eyeglasses.” […]

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ObamaCare Brings Smaller Doctor Networks to Health Plans

September 1st, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Thanks to ObamaCare, Americans in both government and private plans will have fewer choices when looking when looking for health care providers in their networks. As consumers get a look at their plans for next year during the open enrollment period, “look for more health plans offered by employers and on public exchanges under the […]

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Nevada ObamaCare Insurance Carrier Going Out of Business, Millions of Dollars in Debt

August 28th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

One of Nevada’s five insurance carriers authorized to offer health insurance policies under ObamaCare is going out of business, forcing thousands to find new insurance policies when open enrollment begins again this November.

The reason for the closure of The Nevada Health Co-Op is, like so many other problems we’ve seen with ObamaCare, due to rising costs and inadequate revenues.

That the costs of administering a complicated government bureaucracy would end up higher than anticipated is hardly a surprise. However, the financial disaster facing The Nevada Health Co-Op stemmed from not just spiraling claims costs, but an insufficient number of people – specifically, healthy young people – buying the coverage.

ObamaCare’s insurance mandate was supposed to ensure that enough healthy people enrolled for insurance so be adequate funds to cover the claims of those with more expensive medical problems.

Instead, in state after state, enrollment for ObamaCare policies has lagged below expectations. The only real exception to this is the states that allowed Medicaid coverage to expand to able-bodied, working age adults. This Medicaid expansion, which by its nature, is a subsidized government program and would not involve enrollees paying to help cover the cost of insurance coverage, has seen its enrollment figures explode beyond all estimates, burning through millions of dollars of federal funds and endangering state budgets.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield Pulls Out of New Mexico’s ObamaCare Exchange

August 27th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico has decided to stop offering plans on the state’s ObamaCare exchange starting January 1, 2016. The move will leave thousands of New Mexicans in a lurch and force them to find new plans on the exchange.

Why is the company bailing on the state’s ObamaCare exchange? It’s too expensive.

Kurt Shipley, the company’s president, announced Wednesday that the company lost “$19.2 million in 2015 on the 35,000 individuals covered by plans they purchased on and off the exchange.”

“We were unable to reach an agreement with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance … that would allow us to continue to offer coverage on the state’s health insurance exchange with rates that would be adequate to cover the anticipated needs of our members for the coming year,” Shipley wrote.

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205,000 Ineligible People Removed From Massachusetts Medicaid

August 26th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Massachusetts state officials have culled through their Medicaid rolls and stripped 205,000 ineligible recipients. MassHealth is expecting to save $250 million, “including both state and federal money.”

The state’s governor, Charlie Baker, “launched a process called redetermination,” a process to “ensure that everyone receiving the public health insurance remains eligible.” Past “technological problems” in Massachusetts’ Health Connector website meant that “state officials had been unable to do the redeterminations since October 2013.” This resulted in 1.2 million people who “were automatically reenrolled in Medicaid without anyone rechecking their eligibility.”

This was the first part of the redetermination process which, “Baker officials have said they anticipate saving $400 million in Medicaid costs – $210 million from the state and the rest from federal money.”

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Michigan Medicaid Comes with a Wal-Mart Gift Card

August 24th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Yes, you read the headline correctly. Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program includes $50 Wal-Mart gift cards for Medicaid enrollees that “follow the doctor’s orders.”

It seems that although, “the state doesn’t itself purchase or give out any Wal-Mart gift cards, their cost is baked into the Medicaid managed care contracts.” In essence, the taxpayers of Michigan are paying for $50 Wal-Mart gift cards for people on Medicaid whether they know it or not.

And getting one of these gift cards is pretty easy.

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Alaska: Legislature Will Sue Governor Over Medicaid Expansion

August 19th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Remember when we highlighted the fight in Alaska over Medicaid expansion? Here’s a quick refresher.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) is battling his state’s legislature over his desire to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, ignoring the growing evidence from other states that Medicaid expansion does not lead to better health outcomes and ends up becoming an overwhelming burden on state budgets.

After the Alaska Legislature repeatedly refused to consider Medicaid expansion during any of this year’s regular or two special legislative sessions, on July 16 Walker sent notice to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee that he intended to unilaterally accept the federal funding to expand Medicaid in Alaska.

Earlier, Alaska State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Valleys) sent a memo to Governor Walker and key legislative committees urging the Governor to rescind his order or risk a lawsuit. Well, the Governor didn’t listen and now Republicans are throwing down the gauntlet, and making good on their promise to sue Governor Walker.

From the Alaska Dispatch News, comes this: “The Alaska Legislature on Tuesday said it would sue Gov. Bill Walker to block his move last month to expand the public Medicaid health-care program without lawmakers’ approval.”

A GOP-controlled House and Senate committee has retained two law firms to challenge the Governor’s actions. Bancroft PLLC, one of the firms chosen by the legislature, has significant experience challenging ObamaCare policies having “represented more than two dozen states in their U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act.”

ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is one of its worst provisions, enrolling millions of Americans in a program with notoriously terrible health outcomes and with dwindling access to care.

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Alaska Governor and Legislature Going to War Over Medicaid Expansion

August 17th, 2015 / Kristina Ribali / 0 comments

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) is battling his state’s legislature over his desire to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, ignoring the growing evidence from other states that Medicaid expansion does not lead to better health outcomes and ends up becoming an overwhelming burden on state budgets.

After the Alaska Legislature repeatedly refused to consider Medicaid expansion during any of this year’s regular or two special legislative sessions, on July 16 Walker sent notice to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee that he intended to unilaterally accept the federal funding to expand Medicaid in Alaska.

This week, Alaska State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Valleys) sent a memo to Walker and key legislative committees urging the Governor to rescind his order or risk a lawsuit. In the memo, Dunleavy objects to Walker taking unilateral action, and raises concern that the Legislature has not yet had adequate time to study the issue.

“The announcement on July 16 by Governor Walker that he would unilaterally expand Medicaid by superseding the normal public process of legislative hearings means the voice of my constituents via me as their elected senator is being quashed,” wrote Dunleavy. “Under this process, his proposal need not ever be approved or disapproved by the legislature.”

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