31 May National & State News on Health Insurance & More
This week we bring you information that may be useful to you and updates from a few states . . .
- The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act passed through Congress and was signed by the President. The bipartisan legislation provides more resources toward pediatric cancer surveillance, survivorship and other initiatives.
- The number of people insured in the United States has gone down in the last year, leaving people without crucial health insurance coverage. This is most significant in states that chose not to expand access to their Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2017, about 19% percent of adults, ages 18-64, were uninsured in non-Medicaid expansion states, up from 17.9% in 2016, per the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey. In Medicaid expansion states, only 9.1% of adults were uninsured in 2017, slightly better than 9.2% in 2016.
In Utah, an effort to add a voter proposition to expand Medicaid in Utah for the November ballot has been certified. Utah will be the second state where voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid in their state. Voters in Maine approved a ballot initiative in November, but Maine Governor Paul LePage has refused to implement it and has been sued to enforce the ballot initiative.
After rejecting Medicaid expansion for 4 years, Virginia’s Senate passed a Medicaid expansion proposal yesterday. It is expected to pass the House and be signed by the Governor. While it does include a work requirement and requires those who are between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level to pay more for out-of-pocket costs, it is estimated to provide coverage to 400,000 people.
New Hampshire’s request to add a work requirement to its Medicaid program has been approved by the Trump administration, making it the fourth state to impose this new requirement. Under the plan, most able-bodied adults, ages 19-64, will need to work 100 hours a month to keep their health insurance benefits.
Kansas recently asked the federal government to approve a plan to impose a three-year lifetime limit on using the state Medicaid program. CMS Administrator Seema Verma has informed Kansas that their plan will not be approved. This decision is a relief for the advocacy community, who was concerned that this limit on access to Medicaid coverage would negatively impact the cancer community.
Arizona, Wisconsin, and Utah are among other states who were seeking similar caps on how long certain low-income people can receive Medicaid benefits.
In the face of the elimination of the federal individual mandate penalty in 2019, New Jersey’s state legislature passed an individual mandate to have health insurance coverage. New Jersey is only the second state, after Massachusetts to have such a requirement, but other states such as California are also considering adding this requirement to stabilize the individual state health insurance markets.
In response to the pending federal proposal to expand the availability of short-term health insurance plans, legislators have proposed state legislation to eliminate the sale of these plans in California. Short-term health insurance plans are very concerning to advocates in the cancer community, because of their ability to deny people with pre-existing conditions, eliminate coverage for things like chemotherapy or prescriptions drugs, and to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage.
Arizona has requested approval from the federal government for their plan to eliminate the three-month retroactive eligibility for Medicaid. This is concerning for the cancer community, because individuals who did not have health insurance when they were diagnosed are able to begin receiving care right away, instead of waiting for their Medicaid application to be process and approved. This provision protects older adults and their families who experience unexpected health care needs and may not be able to file a prompt Medicaid application—for example, after a stroke or fall that requires hospitalization and/or nursing home stay.
Iowa’s request to eliminate retroactive coverage has already been approved and the federal government is also considering a request from Florida as well.
Stay tuned for the latest news . . .