CMS’s Verma rejects lifetime limit on Kansas Medicaid as dangerous to ‘safety net’

May 8, 2018

Speaking to a national hospital group May 7, Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said her agency will reject Kansas’ request to limit some people to three years of Medicaid coverage in a lifetime.

Verma told the American Hospital Association that her agency is open to many new ideas about reforming Medicaid but is determined to make sure it “remains a safety net for those that need it most.”

After President Donald Trump took office, he and his appointees signaled a willingness to give states more flexibility in how they run their Medicaid programs, which are funded through a combination of state and federal dollars. The Kansas proposal is the first the administration has rejected.

Kansas was one of five states that requested lifetime limits. The others were Maine, Arizona, Utah and Wisconsin—all also led by Republican governors.

Democrats opposed the idea, and some said they doubted it was legal.

The Kansas proposal would have imposed the three-year limit only on Medicaid recipients deemed able to work. It would have applied to about 12,000 extremely low-income parents who make up a small fraction of the 400,000-plus total Kansans who receive Medicaid.

In Kansas, Medicaid is a managed care program called KanCare with strict income limits to qualify. Almost all the beneficiaries are children, the elderly, pregnant women, or people with disabilities.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer released a statement saying his office had received a letter from Verma rejecting the Kansas proposal, but he said the administration had already announced during an April 23 legislative hearing that it was withdrawing the proposal.

He said his administration decided to drop the request for lifetime limits after officials in Verma’s agency “indicated they would be unable to approve the measure.”

Before adjourning for the session last week, the Kansas Legislature passed a budget that prevents the governor from implementing a Medicaid work requirement without legislative approval.

Sheldon Weisgrau, interim executive director of the Alliance for Healthy Kansans, said the Trump administration was right to reject lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage. The alliance is a group of healthcare providers and disability organizations lobbying for expanding Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Kansans.

Kansas City Star has the full article

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