Health Care Reform News Around the Nation for September 8
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D) this week are scheduled to make eight stops on a statewide tour to promote a plan designed to expand health coverage to more children under the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program by 2010, the Kentucky Enquirer reports.
On Wednesday, Beshear said that it is "shameful and shortsighted" that about 90,000 children in the state do not have health care even though about 65,000 of them are eligible for coverage under KCHIP. About 55,000 children currently are enrolled in the program (Yetter, Kentucky Enquirer, 9/4). Beshear said the objective of the initiative is to make it easier for 35,000 more children to enroll in KCHIP by implementing several changes, such as eliminating an in-person interview, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
The changes to expand enrollment, which will cost the state $31.1 million and require $81.3 million in federal funds over the next two years, will be implemented in eight weeks (Vos, Lexington Herald-Leader, 9/4).
The New York state Department of Civil Service this fall is planning to launch an investigation to ensure that the 1.2 million state employees, dependents and retirees who receive health insurance under the New York State Health Insurance Program are eligible for their coverage, the Albany Times Union reports.
According to the Times Union, thousands of people receiving coverage though the program might not be eligible, such as former spouses and adult children. According to the Times Union, because of the large number of families enrolled in the program, "insurance experts have long suspected that a large number of employees continue to improperly keep" ineligible people listed as dependents.
Policyholders will have a two-month grace period to remove ineligible dependents without penalty once the audit begins. Policyholders who retain ineligible people on their plans could face civil or criminal penalties, and could be required to refund premiums (Karlin, Albany Times Union, 9/3).
Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri's (R) request to CMS last month for a waiver to set limits on state Medicaid spending has "alarmed" congressional Democrats and low-income advocacy groups who said the proposal would reduce access to nursing homes, raise out-of-pocket expenses for low-income families and limit eligibility and enrollment of residents in the program, the Washington Post reports.
Carcieri said the request for the waiver was prompted by pressures of a "national economic downward spiral" and the need to address the rising cost of health care, which he called "the single largest expenditure of the state's budget."
The plan would limit the state's Medicaid contribution in 2009 to 23% of the state's general fund budget, or about $754 million. Federal spending would increase annually at a capped rate of 9.2%, which accounts for a 6.8% increase in annual health care costs and a 2.3% increase annually in enrollment, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis.
State officials estimated that under the plan, state and federal expenses for the program would fall short of projected needs by $231 million in 2009 and by $500 million in fiscal year 2013. To address the shortfall, the state's plan calls for more efficient delivery of health care services by increasing the number of in-home and community care service providers for seniors and the disabled, while lowering the dependence on more costly facilities like nursing homes (Montgomery, Washington Post, 9/5).