California will become the first state to remove immigration status as a barrier to healthcare, making all low-income undocumented residents eligible for state-subsidized insurance regardless of age, according to the Sacramento Bee. The governor announced a budget deal he struck with the legislature that included a new Medi-Cal expansion covering more undocumented adults. The program’s launch, starting no later than Jan. 1, 2024, is expected to provide full coverage for approximately 700,000 undocumented residents ages 26-49 that were not included in previous coverage expansions and will lead to the largest drop in the rate of uninsured Californians in a decade.
California passed legislation limiting cost-sharing for abortion care services, according to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. Senate Bill 245 prohibits state-regulated health plans from charging separate deductible, coinsurance, copayment or any other cost-sharing requirement on coverage for all abortion-related services. However, patients with high-deductible health plans still must meet their deducible before the protection goes into effect.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) granted Colorado’s Section 1332 state innovation waiver to create its own state-specific public option next year, reports Fierce Healthcare. The public option plan will be sold on the state’s marketplace and is expected to lower premiums by an average of 22 percent. Under state law, the public option plan also must lower premiums by five percent in 2023, 10 percent in 2024 and 15 percent in the third year. The state’s public option plan will operate within Colorado’s reinsurance program, which is authorized to continue under the waiver through 2027. CMS will pass through any savings that the federal government receives to the state, which will in turn use that money to offer subsidies to further lower the cost of healthcare.
Kansas policies leave patients vulnerable to high medical bills, according to KCUR. Based on the Medical Debt Policy Scorecard, Kansas has limited policies reducing how often people incur medical debts and zero policies increasing patients’ ability to resolve debt out of court. The researchers suggest that Kansas can improve protections by requiring hospitals to tell patients about charity care and preventing hospitals from sending bills to collection agencies while patients are still negotiating amounts or making incremental payments, among many other strategies.
The Kentucky governor announced the state’s efforts to establish counties as “Recovery Ready Communities,” to provide high-quality recovery programs across Kentucky, reports Spectrum News 1. Cities and counties can apply for certification upon offering transportation, support groups and employment services at no cost for people seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy and other community partners, including Volunteers of America, is launching the certification program.
A report from the Office of Health Strategy and the Office of the State Comptroller focuses on the Connecticut Healthcare Affordability Index (CHAI), which measures the impact of policy models on Connecticut families’ ability to make ends meet. The findings measured the impacts of the cost of basic needs, income inadequacy rates and affordable healthcare rates by using the following policy models: American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Premium Tax Credit, Covered Connecticut and the Cost Growth Benchmark. The model estimates that if the temporary ARPA provision was available in 2019, nearly 31,000 additional households would have had affordable healthcare. It also estimates that expanding eligibility of the Covered Connecticut Program helped more than 17,000 additional households attain affordable coverage. Finally, by tying the rate of hospital spending growth to the cost growth benchmark, the model estimates that 14,000 additional households would attain affordable healthcare.
Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that extends continuous coverage for individuals without a source of income and lowers the eligibility age for undocumented immigrants from 55 to 42, reports mystateline.com. The new laws authorize the state to seek federal approval to allow individuals without a source of income at the time of their medical benefits redetermination to be considered for renewal. The package also expands coverage for midwifery services by adding certified professional midwives to the program.
A recent survey found that roughly one in four California respondents enrolled in individual market plans experienced difficulty affording premiums, out-of-pocket costs and delaying or avoiding care due to cost, according to California Health Care Foundation. Notably, enrollees with poor health status and chronic conditions more frequently reported difficulty affording plans and delaying/going without care. The survey also found that 28 percent of respondents cut necessities or borrowed money due to healthcare costs.
Arkansas's attorney general on Wednesday accused drugmakers and pharmacy benefit managers of colluding to drive up the price of insulin drugs, the latest in a series of lawsuits to take aim at skyrocketing costs for the life-sustaining medicine, reports Reuters. The lawsuit targets three drugmakers who produce the vast majority of the insulin drugs sold in the U.S. and three of the leading pharmacy benefit managers. Arkansas’ Attorney General stated that 50,000 Arkansans with diabetes were uninsured and that many had been forced to ration insulin because of the high cost.
Indiana hosted a National Hospital Price Transparency Conference discussing the state’s high hospital costs, where researchers discussed the impacts of consolidation and monopolies’ ability to increase prices, according to Wane 15. During the conference, the Employers’ Forum of Indiana unveiled a new dashboard to score healthcare systems on price and quality, which showed that Indiana has the seventh highest costs in the nation, relative to Medicare, without necessarily providing higher quality care. These tools are intended to help healthcare purchasers, such as private insurers, more aggressively negotiate rates with hospitals.