CMS starts sending Medicaid applications to states

The federal government has finally begun sending Medicaid applications to state officials so they can enroll new consumers in the program. Until now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hadn't forwarded the applications for more than 800,000 people who were determined eligible for Medicaid, reported the Associated Press.

CMS selected 10 states--Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Montana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia--to receive the Medicaid information because their systems are expected to process the information better than other states.

"When you talk about sharing data on the Medicaid side, there are a number of pieces that have to work together and sync in terms of the systems," CMS Director of Communications Julie Bataille told reporters this week.

Although CMS is moving forward with the information transfer, some problems remain. In Pennsylvania, for example, only one application was transmitted and the process was peppered with technical problems. "It came through with so many errors that we can't even open it," Eric Kiehl, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said.

The primary obstacle for CMS sending the Medicaid files was the federal government didn't have the technology to transfer the information. Now that CMS resolved that problem, states need to ensure they can receive the data. "It won't come all at once," Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), told the AP. "As the state proves it's capable, the trickle will increase."

Meanwhile, states are reporting they're satisfied with CMS communication processes. In particular, states say regular calls CMS makes with each statewide Medicaid agency have allowed for "consistent, ongoing communication" and are "essential in identifying and working through state-specific issues," according to the latest State Snapshot of ACA Enrollment from the NAMD.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- see the NAMD's State Snapshot (.pdf)