Friday Five - June 9, 2017

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June 09, 2017

It’s Friday and this week in our Friday Five series, MAXIMUS is following an Ohio think tank’s call for greater flexibility at the state level for Medicaid program innovation; how work requirements for Alabama’s SNAP program led to a sharp drop in program participation; and, new reports showing what the House GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) could mean for states with ongoing or newly implemented Medicaid expansion plans.

1. States Need Freedom to Improve Health for Medicaid Recipients

As Congress continues its work to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaders are “concerned about the impact these changes will have on Medicaid recipients.” What’s more, argues Rea S. Hederman Jr. of the Buckeye Institute, an Ohio-based think tank, in an opinion piece in The Hill, “we need to change Medicaid overall and think of how to deliver the best care, to the most patients for the best price … The problem is there is only so much improvement that can be made without Washington lifting some of its burdensome regulations. Fortunately, she states, federal officials want to make it easier to grant Medicaid waivers that would allow states more flexibility to innovate in their Medicaid programs.”

2. Bill Would Require Time Limits and Work for Pennsylvania Medicaid Recipients

A current proposal in Pennsylvania would make work requirements part of the state’s Medicaid program and impose a lifetime limit of five years for Medicaid eligibility. State Rep. Seth Grove, the bill’s sponsor, said, “we have a finite amount of taxpayer dollars. We need to make sure they go to the most needy individuals.” While it’s unlikely the proposal would become law under Pennsylvania’s current Democratic governor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, the idea is one that has been gaining more attention due to Republican control in Washington, DC, and calls by some Republicans to cut Medicaid spending or completely restructure the program.

3. Alabama Counties Saw 85 Percent Drop in Food Stamp Participation After Work Requirements Restarted

Several Alabama counties saw an 85 percent drop in food stamp participation after work requirements were put in place on Jan. 1, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. The 13 counties had previously been exempt from a change that limited able-bodied adults without dependents to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits within a three-year timeframe unless they were working or participating in an approved training program. explains what this trend looks like at the state level in Alabama following changes to the state’s SNAP program.

4. House Republican Health Bill Would Effectively End ACA Medicaid Expansion

The House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) would cut federal Medicaid spending by $834 billion over ten years. New state-level analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that the AHCA’s cost shift to states would require them to come up with tens of billions more in annual funding from their own budgets in order to maintain their Medicaid expansions. In practice, states very likely would not be able to absorb these additional costs and, as a result, the House GOP’s proposal would effectively end the Medicaid expansion now in effect in most or all of the 31 states and Washington, DC, and preclude other states from adopting the expansion. CBPP examines the potential impact of the House bill on the nation’s Medicaid population. 

5. Study: Repealing Medicaid Expansion Could Hit Colorado Budget Especially Hard

Colorado could be on the hook for spending close to $700 million more per year by 2023 if the federal government does away with its enhanced contribution to the Medicaid expansion – and could be one of the states most impacted by the House GOP bill – according to the CBPP report, as detailed above. Another report from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families found that Medicaid cuts would hit rural areas hardest, whether nationally or in Colorado. The Denver Post elaborates on both reports’ findings and what they mean for Coloradoans.