Some insurance exchanges won't be able to process Medicaid applications to start

Some state health insurance exchanges will not be able to immediately transfer applications to the Medicaid program to the federal government--possibly delaying some critical sources of payment to hospitals, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be unable to electronically transfer Medicaid applications to the appropriate agencies until at least Nov. 1, according to the Journal. The exchanges will start taking applications for coverage on Oct. 1.

The delay will impact the 36 states where the federal government is operating the exchanges, according to the Journal.

Hospitals in more than half the states will not realize additional Medicaid funds because there will not be an expansion of eligibility. It is unknown whether the delay in transferring applications could impede coverage growth in those states that will expand Medicaid eligibility.

However, some advocates say that waiting a few weeks would not impact enrollment options because coverage would not start until Jan. 1 anyway. 

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner admitted that there would likely be some glitches when the exchanges go operational next week, but said they would be smoothed out.

"Everything from the website to the call centers to counselors … everyone is going to be learning this as we go forward," Tavenner said, according to The Hill. "What we are seeing is more transparency, more data, more interest in entering [health insurance] markets and individuals asking a lot of questions. To me, that is what it is all about," she added.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article (subscription required)
- here's The Hill article

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