HHS will be opening up new Medicaid options to cover low-income adults later this week as part of its latest effort to implement the new healthcare reform law, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced at a news conference.
Under this new proposal, individual states could immediately start to expand coverage to childless adults covered by Medicaid. “There are states who have moved ahead already and are covering that population but getting no federal assistance or help for doing that,” she said, adding that those states would likely be first in line for the funding boost.Under the plan, the federal government would reimburse 60 cents for every dollar spent on the expanded Medicaid population.
“The opportunity to draw down some federal funds for this population begins right away,” Sebelius said.
She continued to pitch the new health reform law, ticking off a laundry list of actions the department has been undertaking to restructure the healthcare system. This includes revamping the CMS so it’s better prepared to take on its new responsibilities under health insurance reform, and working with states to create a new high-risk pool to help uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions get coverage. “The pools will be up and running this year,” she said.
New guidance has been sent out to Medicare Advantage plans, “which includes stronger cost-sharing protections for seniors,” she added.
She acknowledged that many American citizens still have questions about the new law.
“That’s understandable. Given the complexity of our healthcare system, which makes up one-sixth of our economy, it would be surprising if they didn’t. And it didn’t help that they were bombarded by nearly $200 million in ads over the last year, many of which were intentionally misleading.”
No matter how good a job HHS does in educating Americans about the benefits of the new law, “it won't be much use unless we also implement those policies responsibly and effectively,” she acknowledged.
As for the states that have issued legal challenges against the new law, Sebelius offered that those lawsuits are being brought by attorneys general who “have some interest in seeking higher office.” What do you think?
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