- CMS approved a five-year extension of Florida’s section 1115 demonstration of a capitated Medicaid managed care program and low-income pool to support uncompensated care.
- The uncompensated care pool will receive about $1.5 billion annually, based on the most current data on hospitals’ charity care costs, according to an Aug. 3 letter from CMS Administrator Seema Verma to Justin Senior, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
- The Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) demonstration, which now runs until June 2022, is the first to include simplified reporting requirements. CMS said it will monitor progress toward state-selected benchmarks and partner with the state to develop a meaningful program evaluation.
The modifications are in line with President Donald Trump's administration's pledge to reduce what it sees as burdensome or duplicative state reporting activities and with the CMS' commitment to partner with states to improve their Medicaid programs.
In a March 14 letter, HHS Secretary Tom Price and Verma reminded states they can apply for waivers that would allow for significant changes to their Medicaid programs. States must show their waiver promotes the objectives of the Medicaid program, but HHS has broad authority for approval and Price has indicated he intends to broaden their use.
The CMS had been winding down funding for the Florida program under President Barack Obama's administration. Officials at the time said the state should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to help with uncompensated care costs. They gave Florida $600 million for the final year of the program, far less than the about $2 billion requested.
The amount of funding now being provided offers a pretty clear indication the CMS under Trump thinks Florida is on the right track without expansion.
More than 30 states currently have waivers. Alabama received CMS approval in February for a section 1115 demonstration waiver to shift a majority of its Medicaid beneficiaries into regional care organizations, akin to accountable care organizations. While there are other states using this strategy, Alabama is unique in that it’s being administered by provider-run nonprofit organizations rather than a major insurer.
Patient advocacy groups have voiced alarm at potential steep cuts to Medicaid. Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget would slash $610 billion from Medicaid plus 20% of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said Trump’s budget would increase the number of uninsured and narrow Medicaid benefits and eligibility. This would lead to higher uncompensated care costs for hospitals.