Payer Roundup—More than 4,300 come off Arkansas Medicaid following work requirement

More than 4,300 Arkansas residents became ineligible for Medicaid because of work requirements, officials announced Wednesday. (Getty/designer491)

Medicaid work requirement in Arkansas results in drop of 4,300

More than 4,300 Arkansas residents became ineligible for Medicaid because they failed to meet new work or job preparation requirements in that state, officials announced Wednesday.

Arkansas is the first state to test the controversial idea of work or "community engagement" requirements for Medicaid benefits backed by Republicans.

“I don’t like that number," said Gov. Asa Hutchison, according to a report in The Washington Post. But he also pointed to 1,000 people in the overall program who have found employment, showing the program resulted in “a proper balance of those values that we hold important.” (The Washington Post article)

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Survey: Not enough being done about high drug prices

More than three-quarters of Americans say the cost of prescription drugs is too high and that neither the Trump administration or Congress are doing enough to address the problem, according to a new survey from West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago.

According to the survey, 88% of respondents said drug costs should be a priority issue for congressional candidates. More than 80% said they support proposals to allow Medicare to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices and to permit low-cost generics to compete with brand-name drugs. (Survey [PDF])

Skilled nursing occupancy drops to new low

Occupancy rates at skilled nursing facilities in the U.S. hit a new low of 81.7% in the second quarter of 2018, according to new data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

NIC pointed to policy changes related to reimbursement and shortened lengths of state, as well as competition from assisted living and home health alternatives and pressure from Medicaid Advantage.

“Major health policy changes—some related to Affordable Care Act provisions that affect care delivery and payment—and business trends attributable to broader competition have resulted in continued occupancy declines," said Liz Liberman, NIC’s healthcare analyst.

Despite significant growth in the number of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage health plans nationwide, NIC officials said their patient mix from Medicare Advantage has remained flat for skilled nursing in the last year. (Skilled Nursing News)