November is National Caregivers Month—a time to recognize and celebrate caregivers for their important role in our lives. There are professional caregivers, but there are also about 52 million unpaid caregivers—spouses, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and others who take care of loved ones in the home.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report on health insurance in the United States in 2014. That report showed that nearly 9 million people gained health insurance in 2014. This is by far the largest single year reduction in the uninsured since the Census began collecting data on insurance status in 1987. Generally, states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 saw the greatest drop in the number of residents without health insurance.
Governor Matt Bevin recently submitted his proposal to change the state’s Medicaid expansion to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services for federal review and approval. A federal comment period will start soon. Many of the proposed changes are likely to harm the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who currently have coverage under the program
Anyone concerned about affordable health care in the United States is rightly focused on the upcoming second open enrollment period and Medicaid expansion in the states. But there’s another important effort that demands advocates’ attention—extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Now is the time to ramp up awareness of the funding crisis threatening CHIP and enlisting the support of lawmakers to defend it. If Congress does not act in the coming year, millions of children will be left without affordable health insurance next October.
Last month, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter clarifying Medicaid’s estate recovery rules. These federal rules govern state Medicaid agencies recovering costs from the estate of someone who has received Medicaid to pay for health or long-term care. These rules have been in place since 1993 and are not part of the Affordable Care Act.
With this decision, CMS is making it clear that policies that make it harder for the lowest-income people in the program to get health care are inconsistent with the goals of Medicaid. The decision also defined some boundaries regarding what is and is not appropriate for approval through the Medicaid waiver process.
Earlier today, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) along with Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced legislation to extend funding for the highly successful Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for four years. These bills do not add any new bells or whistles to the program; they simply extend funding to ensure that children do not lose coverage. Congress must pass this legislation quickly to ensure that states can plan their budgets appropriately and avoid disruptions or confusion for families relying on CHIP for their children’s health insurance.
Federal funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires in September 2015. At a time when we are expanding health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, we must also ensure that CHIP—which, as of June 2013, provided health coverage to 5.7 million low-income children—continues well beyond next year. If Congress does not extend CHIP in 2015, millions of children will be left without affordable health insurance.
Congress Should Vote to Make Permanent Two Federal Programs Benefitting Low-Income Families and Individuals
Unless Congress acts quickly, funding for two federal health programs that are critical to low-income families will expire on March 31. Both the Qualified Individual (QI) program and the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program are integral to providing health care to families transitioning from welfare to work and to helping low-income seniors pay their Medicare monthly premiums. Making both programs permanent is the best way to ensure that these small but important programs continue to meet the needs of the individuals who rely on them.