New Medicaid Rules Raise Concerns About Viability of Program
Medicaid is "being redefined throughout the country" because of new federal rules that provide states with more flexibility to administer benefits under their Medicaid programs, the Washington Times reports.
Under the new rules, states "have the ability to take their Medicaid programs from a one-size-fits-all system to a customized format that offers specific benefits to certain populations based on age and health conditions," according to the Times. Four states -- Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia -- have used the new rules to group beneficiaries from traditional Medicaid into benefits packages based on eligibility requirements.
According to the Times, supporters maintain the new rules will allow the state Medicaid programs to "target medical services to the neediest populations," but opponents "warn the new flexibility will undo Medicaid" because of the disparity in benefits among states.
Rachel Klein, deputy director of health policy at Families USA, said, "The new federal rules call into question the meaning of health coverage. Will people be able to get health coverage when they need it?"
Meanwhile, unexpected revenue increases in 2006 prompted 15 states to expand Medicaid eligibility to additional residents, and several states have considered health insurance proposals that involve expansions of the program.
Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said, "States that are using Medicaid to broaden health care coverage are using it as a foundation to build upon for low-income people, which frees up other ways to make insurance more affordable" (Lopes, Washington Times, 4/12).