Posts Tagged - ‘medicaid’

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Texas Medicaid Health Insurance in Danger

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Image: jpo under CC 3.0

Across the country, states are struggling to balance their budgets. (Unlike the federal government, they don’t have the luxury of running a deficit.) This generally requires some combination of raising revenue through taxes and cutting spending programs.

The Republicans that triumphed in the midterm elections are adamant about only using the former. In Texas, they are even considering cutting the affordable health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid. Although the program itself is largely run by the federal government, state governments contribute.

According to supporters of the withdrawal, Texas would launch its own health plan for the impoverished. Many aren’t holding their breath. There is also speculation that the proposal is at least partially intended to spite the Obama administration in Washington for getting involved in individual Texas health insurance matters.

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Affordable Health Insurance Grants for Utah’s Native Americans

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Image: Bob Rosenberg under CC 3.0

Native Americans are one of the demographics most likely to be uninsured. Although a majority of them are eligible for affordable health insurance through CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid, they still struggle with access, especially on reservations.

The new healthcare reform law includes a grant for nearly $1 million to help Utah’s many tribes access health care. The smaller tribes are less likely to have charitable clinics established.

What will the grants cover? Their purposes include outreach from the Utah Navajo Health System to the nearby town of White Mesa, where there is a large American Indian population. 10 to 15 percent of children living there are enrolled in CHIP, when up to 95 percent are estimated to be eligible for that Utah health insurance plan. Several other walk-in clinics in the state will also receive grants.

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No Fee on Health Insurance Plans to Pay For Okla. Medicaid

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
health insurance plans
Image: KB35 under CC 3.0

Recently, the Oklahoma state legislature attempted to implement a one percent fee on the sale of health insurance plans. The proceeds were supposed to help pay for the state’s Medicare program.

However, the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that such a fee is unconstitutional, agreeing with Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland’s objections. Six out of nine justices decided that since the law was passed during the final week of the legislative session with less than three quarters of the legislature in favor, it could not stand.

The fee was to be charged to employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees. It was supposed to raise $78 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.

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Statistics About Massachusetts’ Uninsured

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
affordable health insurance
Image: David Paul Ohmer under CC 3.0

Largely due to the state’s first-in-the-nation healthcare reform, Massachusetts residents are the most likely in America to have a health insurance plan. Still, the expansion has not succeeded in providing universal coverage. Why?

A recent study from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Access Reform Evaluation looked to identify the 4.1 percent who were still uninsured.

Here are their findings on the average Massachusetts resident without health insurance:

  • From 19 to 64 years old
  • male
  • an ethnic or racial minority (African-American, Hispanic, etc.)
  • unmarried
  • lack of proficency in the English language; either their own or that of an adult who lives with them
  • less educated
  • not a U.S. citizen
  • more likely to be unemployed
  • could be eligible for public Medicaid coverage

The study’s authors believe that the state’s message may not be getting across to its attempted demographic. Suggestions include rewriting the program information in order for it to be understandable with a 4th to 8th grade reading level.

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ER Visits To Jump With More Health Coverage

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Image: aaron_anderer under CC 3.0

Most people would assume that an increase in the percentage of those with health coverage would result in fewer people going to the emergency room. After all, they would have primary care doctors and the means to get preventative treatment early. That was actually one of the arguments for health insurance reform.

Unfortunately, it may not turn out that way. ERs are actually likely to become even more crowded! There is a shortage of family physicians that won’t be remedied for years. Medicaid patients–not the uninsured–are the most likely to utilize emergency services.

A preview of what may be coming: emergency room visits increased by 4-7% in Massachusetts after that state passed universal healthcare reform.

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Medicare and Medicaid Nominee Sparks More Healthcare Reform Controversy

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Image: healthcare reform is implemented. Therefore, it is important that he or she is the best person for the job.

Some doubt that President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Donald M. Berwick is the right choice, including the premier industry trade group. America’s Health Insurance Plans declined to sign a letter that supported his selection.

Republicans are also worried that Berwick prefers a government-run National Health Service, similar to the one in Great Britain. They plan to bring up the threat of health plan rationing of care once again during the confirmation hearings.

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How Does Health Insurance Coverage Affect Emergency Room Visits?

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Image: Chris.Violette under CC 3.0

It is commonly believed that the lack of affordable health insurance results in more emergency room visits, many of which could otherwise have been avoided. However, a recent study shows that isn’t always true.

Here are some facts about the ER and insurance status:

  • Those who are between the ages of 18 and 44 and uninsured are more likely to have gone to the emergency room in the past year than those with private health insurance.
  • On the other hand, insurance status has no impact on how often the 45-64 age group visits the ER.
  • Children under age 18 also have similar rates of emergency visits.
  • Strangely, low-income individuals and families on Medicaid are more likely to resort to multiple emergency treatments than those with no insurance at all! This does not bode well for the prospects of healthcare reform, which will bring millions of new people into the fold through that government program–as well as through other means.
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Homeless and Uninsured

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Image: Michele Eve under CC 3.0

Compared to the general American population, the homeless are 10 times less likely to receive necessary health care. A person unable to afford shelter is obviously very unlikely to have health insurance–making care more difficult to find. About a third of them had problems finding needed surgical or medical services they could afford.

Although there are community clinics in many areas that charge based on a patient’s ability to pay–not to mention emergency rooms–there are issues with finding effective transportation, as well as their facilities. In addition, many clinics don’t cover vision or dental services. Both can be symptoms of general health issues.

Homeless individuals who had been employed at least part-time over the past year were more likely to be uninsured than the unemployed, possibly due to their lack of income eligibility for government health insurance plans such as Medicaid.

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Will Jobs Bill Give States More Healthcare Reform Funding?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

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Many states are hoping that the jobs bill currently pending in Congress will include increased funding for implementing healthcare reform.

The legislation requires them to expand eligibility for Medicaid among one of its strategies for expanding access to affordable health insurance. However, the recession has made states cash-strapped and unable to afford it.

As a result, they are seeking to extend the increased federal subsidies provided to them in last year’s stimulus package. They have already budgeted for the six-month extension during the next fiscal year, although its passage certainly isn’t guaranteed.

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Healthcare Reform Strengthens Fraud Prevention

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Image: CafeHealthcare

Health care fraud is a serious issue. It costs the American healthcare system billions of years annually. That’s why the recently passed health insurance law takes steps to further prevent and prosecute it, including:

  • $300 million in funding over the next decade for the Department of Health and Human Services and Justice Department for stronger enforcement.
  • Greater oversight authority over Medicare and Medicaid participants to protect against fraud
  • Longer prison sentences for criminal medical fraud cases.

Last year, the federal government recovered $2.5 billion that was defrauded from the Medicare trust fund. Those overpayments are often passed onto private health insurance plans. Reducing fraud will give the Obama administration more leeway to enact reforms.

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