Cancer and Chronic Illness News - May 15, 2018

Medicaid Expansion

Last November the voters in Maine passed a proposition to expand Medicaid coverage in their state, under the ACA.  Now, the history -  The state legislature has already passed Medicaid expansion laws 5 different times since the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Each time the Legislature has passed the expansion laws, the Governor, Paul LePage, vetoed the expansion. 

In November when the voters of Main approved a plan for Medicaid expansion, LePage immediately said he would not implement it, unless lawmakers devised a plan to fund the expansion without raising any additional state taxes. The federal deadline of April 3, 2018 to implement the expansion has come and gone without there being any submission to the federal government for their approval.  Will the Maine State Legislature come up with any sort of plan?  According to the proposition voted on and passed by the state’s voters the expansion is supposed to begin July 2, 

Family Leave

The Massachusetts State Legislature is discussing a proposal to institute a paid family and medical leave. According to advocacy groups if the legislature fails to approve a plan will begin working  on  a voter proposition on the November ballot.

Paid family leave proposals are also under discussion in Connecticut, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Insurance Rip Off

On the negative, the Iowa governor, Kim Reynolds has signed a bill that will allow the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield sell health benefit plans, notice we did not say health insurance plans. These “health benefit plans” are structured and defined not to be deemed “insurance,” so they are able to deny coverage or charge more for people with pre-existing conditions.  These benefit plans will not be subject to regulation by the Iowa Insurance Division. Who is being kidded here, with the change of a word, consumers lose access to many protections, especially those with serious medical conditions.

Tennessee is also guilty of creating this farm bureau carve out.  Like the bill signed into law in Iowa, the Tennessee benefit plans can and do ask about pre-existing conditions on the application and reject people it expects to have high medical costs.

Stay tuned because there are many other states looking at non-insurance benefit plans as an option. 

 On the Brighter Side

In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill to give more than 70,000 Utahans access to Medicaid. Now the state waits for the Trump administration to sign off on their partial Medicaid expansion plan. 

This partial expansion covers adults making up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or $12,140 a year for an individual. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion covered adults up to 138% of the FPL, or $16,753 for an individual. It also includes a work requirement.

There is an on-going effort to collect signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot, which would expand coverage to adults with a household income up to 138% of the FPL. The deadline for collecting signatures was April 15.  We will see if this proposal gets on to the November ballot.

Joel T. Nowak, MA, MSW wrote this Post.  Joel is the CEO/Executive Director of Cancer ABCs.  He is a Cancer Thriver diagnosed with five primary cancers - Thyroid, Metastatic Prostate, Renal, Melanoma, and the rare cancer Appendiceal cancer.