States explore solutions to healthcare coverage

Many states are taking advantage of Affordable Care Act provisions, experimenting with cost-saving ventures and proposing Medicaid alternatives, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Vermont, which has proposed a single-payer system, is a prime example of states exploring options. Advantages of a single-payer system include efficiency--doctors and hospitals deal with one payer rather than many--and cost control, as public process determines healthcare spending and providers receive uniform, negotiated rates, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

By establishing the program, Vermont can apply for an innovation waiver beginning in 2017 by proving its plan will cover at least as many people as the ACA and will not drain costs out of the federal government.

Hoping to cut costs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved for Maryland to tie growth in hospital costs to growth in the economy. Maryland is the only state where regulators set hospital prices as opposed to having them negotiated through insurers. The plan aims to pay hospitals a fixed annual sum rather than paying for certain services, according to the WSJ.

While certain states chose to not expand Medicaid, others saw opportunity in doing so. Ohio decided to follow in Arkansas's path by using the Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for residents. Indiana, Pennsylvania and Utah are considering similar possibilities as well.

The private Medicaid expansion approach has proven to be quite popular--70 percent of the 225,000 Arkansans who are eligible for the federal-state program have signed up for coverage.

Yet similar proposals from other states continue to spark debate. Federal officials struggle with preserving the foundation of the Medicaid program while ensuring millions of people are not left without access to coverage, notes the WSJ.

For more:
- read the WSJ article