Could states be penalized for Medicaid backlog under O-Care?

 

Top Republicans are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services if it is considering penalizing states with a backlog of new Medicaid applications under ObamaCare.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) say the backlog is the federal government’s fault and wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Wednesday saying it would be unfair to penalize states.

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“We believe it would be inappropriate for CMS to reduce payments to states that may be experiencing a backlog of applications due to the troubles with HealthCare.gov,” they wrote. “Such an approach would violate the very nature of a federal-state partnership.”

They also said such penalties would contradict the agency’s previous statements that expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare would not “unduly impact” states.

The letter was sparked by comments from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a recent hearing. She said her agency was considering “administrative reductions in payments” to states if they didn’t pick up the pace of considering the applications. 

The lawmakers are specifically asking CMS if it plans to reduce federal payments to states because of the backlog.

Under the healthcare law, the federal government is picking up much of the tab from ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid.

If the federal government is planning to reduce payments, the lawmakers want details, including which states would be affected. Finally they want to know when CMS will ensure states have all the data they need on people who are eligible for Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare.

All Republican lawmakers who signed the letter are high-ranking members of Congress.

Upton is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Hatch is ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and Alexander is chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.