California negotiates with feds over new Medicaid waiver

With its current Medicaid waiver set to expire, California continues to negotiate with the federal government on the terms for a new waiver, with billions of dollars in funding for the program at stake, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.

Waivers allow states to make exceptions to the usual Medicaid rules, and California is trying to hammer out a new one that will continue to fund reforms of its Medicaid program. The current program, known as "Bridge to Reform," has enrolled more than 650,000 uninsured individuals in free county-based health plans until they were able to enroll in Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid.

Hindering negotiations are disagreements over how hospitals should be paid to care for uninsured patients, as well as the length of a provision that would pay for changes in how public hospitals deliver care. For California's public hospitals, an agreement will ensure $7.25 billion in state and federal funds to treat low-income and uninsured patients through the Medi-Cal program, the KHN report says.

The current waiver expires Oct. 31. However, if an agreement on the waiver is not reached, the federal government can grant an extension, which it has done in other states.

The Obama administration has turned its focus to convincing governors to expand Medicaid in the wake of the King v. Burwell ruling. Meanwhile, some states are using a combination of waiver programs made possible under the Affordable Care Act to get creative with expansion of their Medicaid programs. 

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News report