Payer Roundup—Mississippi gets 10-year Medicaid waiver extension; A third of Americans believe ACA is repealed

Medicaid
Mississippi has become the first state to get a 10-year extension for its Medicaid demonstration program approved by CMS. (Getty/juststock)

CMS approves 10-year Medicaid waiver extension for Mississippi

Last week, the federal government approved its first 10-year extension of a Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration program.

The Mississippi program provides family planning services for people ages 13-44 with income of up to 194% of the federal poverty level. To get approval for its 10-year extension, the state agreed to submit monitoring reports and participate in calls with CMS every year.

The lengthy waiver extension, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, lets Mississippi administer its Medicaid program “without the inconvenience of obtaining routine approvals from CMS.” The action also shows the agency’s “continuing commitment to giving states the flexibility they deserve to meet the unique needs of their people," she said.

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Alabama won’t freeze CHIP enrollment or stop coverage—for now

Because of the temporary funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program included in Congress’ year-end spending bill, Alabama officials canceled their plans to freeze CHIP enrollment on Jan. 1.

The state will also not follow through with its plan to terminate coverage for current CHIP enrollees by Feb. 1, according to AL.com. But Cathy Caldwell, director of the Alabama Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance, told the publication that “we desperately need Congress to act, hopefully in January.”

Federal funding for CHIP expired Sept. 30, and Congress’ effort to reauthorize funding have been bogged down by partisan disputes. The short-term spending bill passed before the holiday break set aside $2.85 billion to temporarily tide states over.

One-third of Americans believe ACA has been repealed

President Donald Trump was not correct when he said that the GOP tax bill repealed the Affordable Care Act, but a new poll indicates a sizable chunk of Americans believe it nonetheless.

According to the poll (PDF), conducted by The Economist/YouGov, 31% of respondents indicated that Trump has delivered on his promise to repeal the healthcare law. Forty-nine percent said that he didn’t, and 21% were unsure.

The sweeping overhaul to the tax code that Republicans passed before the holiday break did repeal the ACA’s individual mandate, a key part of its insurance market reforms. But experts disagree on how big of an impact that will have, and other core components of the law—like premium subsidies—remain intact.

ACA expert to stop blogging for Health Affairs

Timothy Jost, who has chronicled nearly every Affordable Care Act-related development over the past 8½ years, will no longer contribute to the Health Affairs Blog’s “Following the ACA” series.

Jost, a Washington and Lee University professor emeritus, wrote more than 600 blog posts about the adoption and implementation of the healthcare law, plus the omnipresent political battles surrounding it. Jost wrote in his final post that “I am getting older and believe it is time to slow down.” He will continue to write a monthly “Eye on Reform” column for Health Affairs, however.

Katie Keith, a health policy expert with a law degree from Georgetown University and a master of public health from Johns Hopkins University, will take the helm as the author of the Health Affairs blog series on the ACA.

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