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September 22, 2017

Medicaid expansion rolls rise in August


Medicaid expansion rolls rise in August

More than 1,600 Arkansans enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program in August, raising the total number covered to almost…


More than 1,600 Arkansans enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program in August, raising the total number covered to almost 309,000, the Arkansas Department of Human Services reported Friday.

Those enrolled as of Aug. 31 in Arkansas Works, as the expanded part of the Medicaid program is known, included 284,919 who were being covered under the so-called private option. That program uses Medicaid funds to buy coverage for low-income Arkansans in private plans on the state’s health insurance exchange.

The other 23,864 people were assigned to the traditional Medicaid program because they were considered “medically frail,” with health needs that private plans typically don’t cover.

The department also reported that the monthly, per-person cost of the private option rose in August but remained well below the limit of $570.50 under the federal waiver authorizing the program.

The cost rose by $3.24, to $524.32. That included a monthly payment to insurance companies that averaged $520.07, an increase from $517.05 in July.

The Medicaid program also paid an average of $4.25 per enrollee for benefits, such as nonemergency medical transportation, that the private plans don’t cover, an increase of 23 cents compared to July.

Under the federal waiver that authorized the program, the state will owe money to the federal government if the cost of the private option from 2017-2021 exceeds a cap that will be calculated based on the monthly caps, which increase each year.

So far this year, the monthly per-person cost has averaged $525.76.

Approved by the Arkansas Legislature and then-Gov. Mike Beebe in 2013, the Medicaid expansion extended eligibility to adults with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level: $16,643 for an individual, for instance, or $33,948 for a family of four.

Concerned about the eventual cost of the program, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has requested federal approval to move about 60,000 people off the program, starting next year, by limiting eligibility to people with incomes up to the poverty level and to impose a work requirement on many of those remaining.

The Human Services Department has said it expects federal officials to rule on the request by early next month.

Metro on 09/16/2017


Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Medicaid expansion rolls rise in August

Medicaid expansion rolls rise in August

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