CMS wants proof Medicaid cuts don't hurt access to care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is evaluating New Hampshire's Medicaid program, asking state officials to provide data on access levels for services within 30 days, according to an AHA News Now brief.

The agency cited growing concerns from hospitals that a series of Medicaid rate and payment changes are impeding access to physician services, inpatient and outpatient psychological services and hospital-related home health services, CMS wrote in a May 23 letter to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The CMS inquiry stemmed from 10 New Hampshire hospitals battling state regulators over $250 million in Medicaid cuts, arguing the cuts would prevent equal access to medical care for low-income patients. Last month, the hospitals asked CMS to intervene.

If New Hampshire fails to demonstrate that current and future access to Medicaid services has not declined due to recent budget cuts, CMS said next steps could result in compliance action.

New Hampshire's health commissioner contested the claims and said state officials have provided adequate evidence to show Medicaid patients have no barriers to medical care, the Nashua Telegraph reported.

However, since the new state budget, several New Hampshire hospitals, including Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital, have eliminated jobs and reduced services.

"The ultimate desired outcome is to get that funding restored, but at least this way, there will be a better dialogue," Philip Sullivan, director of Southern New Hampshire Medical Center's behavior health center, told the Telegraph. "So far, the situation has been a little adversarial. Hopefully, something good will come from this."

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now brief
- here's the CMS letter
- read the Nashua Telegraph article