Connecticut: Legislature Reduces Funding Cuts to Hospitals in Special Session Budget Deal

Hospital budget cuts were reduced from $64 million to $30 million under a new budget deal passed during a legislative special session called to address a projected State budget deficit for the current fiscal year. The restoration of funds accounts for roughly half of the Medicaid funding cut in September by Governor Dannel Malloy (D) as part of emergency budget balancing measures, and follows a media campaign by the Connecticut Hospital Association to restore those cuts. The $30 million reduction will be applied in the State's current and next fiscal years.

Iowa: 'Safe Harbor' Period Extended to April 1 in State's Transition to Managed Care

Governor Terry Branstad (R) announced that the "safe harbor" period for Medicaid providers to receive full reimbursement under Iowa's managed care delivery system will be extended to April 1, 2016. Under the extension, providers will continue to receive 100% reimbursement at current Medicaid rates for Medicaid-covered services regardless of whether they have signed up with a managed care organization under the State's new managed care delivery system, set to take effect January 1, 2016 pending CMS approval. Branstad said the safe harbor extension would give providers and beneficiaries additional time to transition to the new system.

Oklahoma: Medicaid Budget Proposes Cuts to Provider Reimbursement Rates

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) presented a no-growth 2017 budget request to a Senate appropriations committee that includes a 3% reduction in provider reimbursement rates in response to the State's overall budget shortfall, estimated to be between $600 million and $1 billion. OHCA estimates the lower rates will save the agency $20 million. Some services are excluded from rate reduction, including those financed through other State agencies' funds, those provided under a waiver, and those where a service reduction "could severely limit access or not cover costs." The new budget also cuts the medically fragile waiver program rate by 3%, cuts some Medicare nursing home coinsurance payments from 75% to 20%, creates a telemedicine billing code, and sets an approved rate for telemedicine services. If approved by the Senate, the new rates would go into effect January 1.

Pennsylvania: Lawmakers Vote to Renew and Transition CHIP from Insurance Department

The Legislature voted to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years, and to transition it from the Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services. Supporters of the bill reasoned that because CHIP and Medicaid eligibility determinations will now be housed in the same agency, the programs will be better able to serve children when their families' income fluctuates and necessitates a move between CHIP and Medicaid coverage. The change will not impact eligibility, benefits, coverage, or provider networks for children currently in the program. Governor Tom Wolf (D) has indicated that he will sign the bill.