The Kaiser Family Foundation , a non-partisan and non-profit organization that refers to itself as "a leader in health policy analysis, health journalism and communication" and one that runs its own research programs, released studies on research into changes in Medicaid . These studies, as reported by Reuters , offer a glimpse of coverage gaps that exist in the current Medicaid system, a system due for changes and expansion in January 2014 as part of the Affordable Care Act .
Medicaid is Health Insurance for the Poor -- or is It?
Each state sets its own criteria for who qualifies to receive Medicaid, based on federal poverty guidelines. Some states set the requirements that a person must be at or below poverty guidelines, others set the slightly above that level.
The poverty guidelines for 2013 , issued by the U.S Dept. of Health and Human Services, are the same in each of the states, except Hawaii and Alaska, and in the District of Columbia. To be within these guidelines, a single person may not have income higher than $11,170 per year; for two people, $15,130; three people, $19,090; four people, $23,050.
Despite these income levels, there are only nine states that provide Medicaid benefits to adults without dependent children in 2012. Three states, Hawaii, Illinois and Minnesota, reduced adult eligibility to only those mandated by federal regulations.
Two of the targeted beneficiary groups, children and pregnant women, fared well with Medicaid eligibility in 2012. Single adults with no dependent children were most often those who felt the brunt of state budget crunches.
Changes Loom Large for Medicaid in 2014
Some of the mandates of the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage throughout the states has been met with resistance from more than half of the states' governors, with more than a dozen states having rejected the expansion altogether.
Still, there have been positive changes taking place throughout most of the states in the area of technology. Mandated changes in accessibility to Medicaid enrollment and reapplication came from the Affordable Care Act; along with the mandates came federal dollars to aid in the process. A year ago, only four states provided online application for Medicaid or CHIP, the children's health insurance program. As of Jan. 1, those online applications are available in 37 states. Twenty-eight states currently allow residents to renew their eligibility online.
Better Understanding of Medicaid and Its Roles in Health Care and Governmental Budgets
If you'd like to increase your understanding of just what Medicaid is and how it plays a role in state and federal government budgets and policies and its role in health care, the Kaiser Family Foundation provides a question-and-answer chart on these issues.
A briefing of the long-term care needs of those age 65 years and over -- 13 percent of the population -- and how Medicaid is and is not meeting those needs was published this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Affordable Care Act and its mandates continue to be a political football, but in the final analysis it will be individuals, not political parties or elected officials, who will bear the brunt of the continued bickering.
People who live in the states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion mandate should make haste to learn what alternative plans are in place and voice their opinions to the state's elected officials soon and often.
- Health Care Policy
- Kaiser Family Foundation