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Archive: Waivers/SPAs

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Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Trump Administration Unveils More Options for States to Bypass ACA

December 6, 2018 | ACA | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Late last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced four new Section 1332 state innovation waiver concepts for states to make changes to their individual insurance markets (fact sheet). The new waiver concepts build on the recently issued CMS guidance on Section 1332 waivers, under which CMS aims to strengthen states’ authority to shape their health insurance markets. The Administrator stated in her keynote address at the States and Nation Policy Summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that it was a mistake to federalize so much of health care policy under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and that the new concepts are “designed to illustrate how states can waive certain ACA provisions under section 1332 of the law and develop alternatives to the ACA’s otherwise one-size-fits-all approach.”

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Trump Administration Approves Kentucky Work Requirements for Second Time

November 29, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Shelley Starkey

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) re-approved Kentucky’s request to add work requirements to the state’s Medicaid program last week, following a federal judge’s ruling earlier this year that overturned the first iteration of these requirements. These changes would require the population covered by Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion to report 80 hours of work or “work-related activities” each month, or face losing their coverage for a six-month lockout period. The approved 1115 waiver, which takes effect April 1, 2019, is almost identical to the state’s previously overturned application, and has been projected to result in at least 95,000 Kentuckians losing Medicaid coverage over the next five years.

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Wisconsin Waiver Adds Medicaid Work Requirements, Drug Screens

November 1, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Wisconsin’s request to enact a series of restrictions that would limit Medicaid eligibility and restrict enrollees’ use of Medicaid benefits. The newly-approved Section 1115 waiver will require certain adult beneficiaries to work 80 hours per month to maintain health coverage, institute premiums and subject applicants to drug use screening questions. This decision is the latest in a series of work requirement approvals, however, Wisconsin is the first non-Medicaid expansion state to receive permission from CMS to impose work requirements.

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Trump Administration Loosens Requirements for ACA 1332 Waivers

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

The Trump Administration has issued new guidance to states that would relax requirements around 1332 waivers, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) vehicle for states to make changes to their individual insurance markets. The guidance tracks closely with the Administration’s stated goal of providing flexibility for states to offer cheaper insurance options outside of the ACA marketplaces. In short, the new guidance encourages states to utilize association health plans (AHPs) and short-term health plans as alternatives to current ACA marketplace plans.

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CMS Announces Updates to Medicaid Wavier Reviews and Processes

August 23, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Shelley Starkey

New guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports updated policies and procedures around state plan amendments (SPAs), 1115 waivers and 1915 waivers in states’ Medicaid programs. Two informational bulletins released within the past week outline the agency’s efforts to streamline approval processes and provide clarity around these options that are meant to give states flexibility in how they administer their Medicaid programs. These updates are part of CMS’s ongoing efforts to address concerns from states and federal policymakers around long administrative approval times and lack of transparency and oversight.

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Court Blocks Kentucky’s Medicaid Work Requirements

July 12, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Stephanie Pasternak

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

On June 29th, a district court judge blocked Kentucky’s waiver request to require Medicaid enrollees to work or participate in a job-related activity for at least 80 hours per month or lose their health coverage. The court ruled that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had not properly considered whether the initiative would violate Medicaid’s central objective of providing medical assistance to the state’s citizens. The decision could have broad implications for other states hoping to limit Medicaid enrollment through work requirements.

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Medicaid Work Requirements to be Enacted in Indiana

February 8, 2018 | Addictions | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Indiana is now the second state to receive approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a waiver request that imposes work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries to maintain coverage. Indiana’s Section 1115 waiver also enacts a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Program which will include coverage for residential treatment in Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) and will increase premiums for beneficiaries who use tobacco and are not engaged in tobacco cessation activities. The National Council for Behavioral Health strongly opposes work requirements and any attempts to restrict access to needed behavioral health services.

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CMS Approves First-Ever Medicaid Work Requirements in Kentucky

January 18, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

In a historic first, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Kentucky’s Section 1115 waiver request that imposes work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries to maintain coverage. The National Council for Behavioral Health strongly opposes work requirements and believes that work requirements not only prevent individuals with mental health or substance use disorders from receiving the treatment they need, but are in opposition to the core mission of Medicaid. Nine other states have pending work requirement waivers; however, any approvals will likely be challenged in court delaying their implementation.

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CMS Issues Guidance Allowing Medicaid Work Requirements

January 11, 2018 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

On Thursday, the Trump Administration released guidelines for states to create the first-ever work requirements for Medicaid recipients. The guidance targets “able-bodied adults” with some exemptions. While details are still emerging, the National Council has grave concerns that the policy’s exemptions will not be broad enough to protect all individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Ten states have asked the federal government for approval to institute Medicaid work requirements. With this new guidance, the Administration is expected to begin approving these requests.

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Arizona Waiver Proposal Imposes Medicaid Work Requirements and Lifetime Limits

January 4, 2018 | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Arizona has submitted a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver request that would institute a lifetime cap on Medicaid coverage and impose work requirements on enrollees. If approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Arizona’s Medicaid program will have the ability to deny or disenroll eligible individuals who fail to meet criteria to work or take educational courses and limit Medicaid coverage to five years for “able-bodied adults.” Each of these measures could significantly harm individuals with mental health and/or addiction disorders who receive care for these conditions through Medicaid.

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CMS Administrator Encourages Work Requirements in Medicaid’s New Direction

November 16, 2017 | Medicaid | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Katiri Zuluaga

Manager, State Initiatives

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma gave a speech that further elaborated on new guidelines and priorities for Medicaid waivers. The Administrator’s comments to State Medicaid Directors included encouraging states to submit Section 1115 waivers that include work requirements, using the term “community engagements” to describe work requirements for able-bodied adults.

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CMS Issues Guidance to States on Improving Medicaid Waiver Process

November 9, 2017 | Waivers/SPAs | Comments

Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Earlier this week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to streamline approvals of Medicaid waivers and state plan amendments. These tools are used by states to alter Medicaid benefits, eligible populations, and service delivery. While the Administration’s stated goal is to ensure Medicaid’s long-term fiscal sustainability and promote beneficiary independence, advocates should be aware of state proposals that could limit beneficiaries’ participation in the Medicaid program.

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