CMS de­nies key pro­vi­sions in Ari­zona’s re­quest for changes in Med­i­caid

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Vir­gil Dickson

The CMS ap­proved the least con­ser­va­tive as­pects of Ari­zona’s re­quest to tweak Med­i­caid in ways that would make con­sumers more fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble for their cov­er­age.

The agency de­nied Ari­zona’s re­quest to re­quire ben­e­fi­cia­ries to search for jobs while on the pro­gram and it re­jected lock­ing peo­ple out of cov­er­age for six months if they failed to pay pre­mi­ums.

Also re­fused was a re­quest that ben­e­fi­cia­ries liv­ing un­der the fed­eral poverty level pay pre­mi­ums.

The CMS will al­low Ari­zona to charge ben­e­fi­cia­ries with in­comes above the fed­eral poverty level pre­mi­ums. Those funds will be fun­neled into a health sav­ings ac­count and cover ser­vices such as den­tal and vi­sion. Peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty level can then re­ceive den­tal and vi­sion cov­er­age by vol­un­teer­ing to pay into the ac­count or hav­ing a char­ity or third party con­trib­ute on their be­half.

In place of a job search re­quire­ment, Ari­zona will set up a work search and job training pro­gram for en­rollees.

Fed­eral reg­u­la­tors said they felt the pro­pos­als would un­der­mine ac­cess to care in Ari­zona. Med­i­caid cov­ers 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple in the state. Since ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid, 315,000 peo­ple have gained cov­er­age.

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