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WASHINGTON, D.C.--The 30 state legislators attending The Council of State Governments' third annual Medicaid Policy Academy paid close attention to speakers who discussed ways to control costs and create savings in state Medicaid programs.

On June 18-20, 30 CSG members gathered in Washington, D.C. for the third annual Medicaid Policy Academy to learn more about Medicaid and how states can improve health outcomes for enrollees and, at the same time, run a more cost efficient program. Attendees had been nominated for attendance by health committee chairs in their home states as "rising stars" who were either new to positions of leadership on Medicaid policy or were likely to soon assume these positions.

The Council of State Governments Medicaid Policy Academy in Washington, D.C., June 18-20 provided attendees with important information about the many facets of the Medicaid program. Speakers at the sessions offered information beyond the sessions in video interviews.

Medicaid Role in State Budgets

Robin Rudowitz, associate director, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, says Medicaid has a complicated role in state budgets.

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The bad news is a lot of people across the country can’t get access to appropriate and timely dental care. The good news is state policymakers can help improve the situation.
That was the...

While two dozen states may be holding out on traditional Medicaid expansion because of political or philosophical reasons, some state policymakers are forging a new path with expansion programs the likes of which have never been seen before.

During the ACA open enrollment period, Oct. 1, 2013 to April 15, 2014, 12.8 million persons signed up for health insurance. Over 8 million purchased health insurance policies through the exchanges and 85 percent of those buyers qualified for a tax subsidy to reduce the premium cost. Another 4.8 million enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP programs in states, an 8.2 percent increase in overall Medicaid enrollees nationally.

In the first four months the health insurance exchanges have operated, 3.2 million Americans have purchased health insurance plans. More than three of four of those buying health insurance qualify for subsidies to reduce their premiums to a more affordable level. Another 3.1 million Americans have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP in the 26 states and the District of Columbia where Medicaid eligibility have been expanded. The CSG infographic below provides a state-by-state look at enrollment, Oct. 1, 2013 to Feb. 1, 2014. The exchanges will continue to provide insurance enrollment through the end of March 2014. The data has been taken from this report released February 12, 2014, by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Just hours before Gov. Maggie Hasan delivered her State of the State address yesterday, Senate leaders reached an agreement on Medicaid expansion.

New Hampshire held a special session in the fall of 2013 but was unable to reach an agreement to expand Medicaid, even after a Medicaid study group had recommended expansion. The House approved expansion but the Senate rejected it. 

Senate President Chuck Morse, a primary engineer of yesterday's agreement, says both parties...

Health care spending is 18 percent of the national economy so it is no wonder that big health issues face the states in 2014. The all-consuming question for states is how to contain costs. The Affordable Care Act kicks in full force in 2014 and states that haven't already decided to expand Medicaid eligibility may take up the question. The health marketplaces, while slow to start in October, were making more headway as 2014 began. Nearly 4 million (3.9) individuals had been deemed Medicaid or CHIP eligible and another 2.1 million selected private health insurance policies through the federal or state marketplaces by the end of December 2013. States will look at systems and delivery methods, including mental health, aging and professional scope of practice issues. 

CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues for 2014, including Medicaid expansion and cost containment, health insurance exchange implementation, building adequate mental health systems, health workforce adequacy and the aging of the baby boomers and the pressure it puts on health care systems.

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