Highlighting Medicaid Developments In Three States

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Summaries of recent news coverage about Medicaid programs in Indiana, Maryland and Utah appear below.

* Indiana: The state Family and Social Services Administration has proposed a new rule that would restrict Medicaid coverage of nursing home care for people who shift their assets to meet income eligibility thresholds, the Indianapolis Star reports. FSSA officials said the new rule was proposed to stop fraudulent use of Medicaid funds. Under the proposed rule, residents who contribute the money to a charity or use it as payment to a non-contracted individual, like a family member, for providing care will not be eligible for Medicaid. Jeff Wells, director of the Indiana Medicaid program, said the changes are needed to meet the requirements of the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and the proposed rule prevents residents from "gaming" the system by improperly transferring or storing their savings and assets so that they qualify for Medicaid payments. The rules would apply to some asset transfers made as many as five years ago. Wells said the proposed rule includes a hardship waiver to help applicants "avoid unintended consequences" of the changes, such as when people unintentionally transfer money improperly (Evans, Indianapolis Star, 9/24).

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* Maryland: Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and state Comptroller Peter Franchot on Tuesday mailed 10,000 letters to Maryland families eligible for Medicaid coverage under a program expansion that took effect in July, the Baltimore Sun reports. The expansion raised the annual income eligibility threshold for parents in the program from 40% of the federal poverty level to 116% of the poverty level. State Health Secretary John Colmers said Maryland can fund the expanded program for two years without using money from the state's general fund, but future funding will depend on the outcome of a slot machine gambling referendum on the November ballot (Dechter, Baltimore Sun, 9/24).

* Utah: State Medicaid Director Michael Hales on Thursday is expected to present two budget proposals that would make cuts to Medicaid to help address a $272.4 million state budget deficit, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. One proposal would cut Medicaid funding by 3%, or $10 million in general funds and $25 million in federal matching funds. The other proposal would reduce funding by 5%, or $16.8 million in general funds and $40 million in federal matching funds. He said that benefits such as eyeglasses, dental care and physical therapy likely would be cut first, and added that physician reimbursement rates also could be cut. Meanwhile, an additional 8,300 residents have enrolled in the program since August 2007 (Rosetta, Salt Lake Tribune, 9/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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