Noteworthy News

The Private Approach to Medicaid Expansion

In recent months a number of states, led by Arkansas, have begun exploring a new approach to expanding their Medicaid programs.

Instead of enrolling more people in their Medicaid fee-for-service programs or mandating their enrollment in Medicaid managed care plans, these states are considering attempting to use new federal Medicaid funds to subsidize the purchase of private insurance for newly eligible Medicaid recipients.  The insurance purchases would be made through the new health insurance exchanges that are a major component of the Affordable Care Act.

This approach to privatizing Medicaid appears to be appealing to conservative lawmakers opposed to expanding government involvement in health care.  Still, such an undertaking would be complex, and its benefits and drawbacks may not be entirely understood at this time.

With their strong interest in Medicaid expansion in as many states as possible, urban safety-net hospitals have a special interest in this issue.

“Premium Assistance in Medicaid,” a new health policy brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the journal Health Affairs, explores the various issues involved in making this new use of the private sector in the delivery of publicly funded Medicaid services.  Read a summary of the report and find a link to the entire document hereiStock_000005787159XSmall.

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