Many predicted massive problems the nation would surely endure as a result of the new healthcare laws merging with Medicaid. While states did have some leeway – including the decision to expand their respective state Medicaid plans, there were many things states weren’t allowed to do. If a state wanted Medicaid as an option across the board (versus making it available to low income families and the elderly), it had to agree to expand its Medicaid coverage. To date, only around half have allowed for that expansion. If latest events are any indication, it surely will not inspire those more cautious states to jump onboard.
No one doubted the massive undertaking involved in covering low income residents as well as those with disabilities. But no one expected it would become the problem we’re now seeing unfold. President Obama, after keeping an eye on how these plans were rolling out, focused on six states and gave them one week to submit plans as to how each would eradicate the ever-growing list of problems. In those six states alone, there are more than 1 million residents who have still not received Medicaid and as a result, they have no health coverage.
While our state isn’t in the crosshairs, it’s important we keep an eye on how these events unfold. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also closely monitoring how the states respond to the president’s ultimatum. In a statement earlier, an agency spokesperson, Aaron Albright, said, “CMS is asking several state Medicaid agencies to provide updated mitigation plans to address gaps that exist in their eligibility and enrollment systems to ensure timely processing of applications and access to coverage for eligible people.” He then reiterated the agency’s priority of monitoring the progress.
So why is this important for Ohio residents? The transition has been anything but seamless and many states are now wondering if they made a mistake. For instance, in Tennessee (one of those states the president is targeting), Kelly Gunderson, who is the Medicaid spokeswoman denied her state has a backlog of applications. Instead, she explains, “There are numerous aspects of the letter with which we do not agree, and we are currently working on our response to CMS.”
Tennessee isn’t the only state that’s taken a step back. Many state agencies are wondering how the constantly changing moving parts will ever equate to a seamless and safer process, especially for older Americans.
There have been 6 million additions to Medicaid coverage nationwide and nearly all are due to the Affordable Care Act. According to a recent analysis by Kaiser Health News, in 15 of the largest states, close to 2 million are still waiting to be addressed with some waiting as long as eight months. A number of reasons are being cited, including antiquated computer systems and staff shortages.
For now, Ohio residents have not seen any of these types of delays. What the future holds, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, if you’re concerned about qualifying for Medicaid or would like to learn more about the process, we invite you to contact our office to speak with a qualified Cincinnati Ohio estate planning lawyer.