It has not been a good week for states that want to try innovative Medicaid waivers. First, CMS shot down Massachusetts’ attempt to re-structure the 25-year old Medicaid prescription drug rebate program to achieve additional savings on the cost of prescription drugs. And then on Friday, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia effectively blocked Kentucky’s attempt to impose “community engagement” requirements on some Medicaid recipients. … More
Tag Archives: waiver
It was a busy day for CMS today. After keeping everyone in suspense for months, CMS finally issued its decision on the Massachusetts state Medicaid program waiver request that proposed to limit access to covered outpatient drugs to Medicaid (in Massachusetts, called “MassHealth”) enrollees. As many observers predicted, CMS did not approve the state’s request. Notably, however, the CMS response letter provided a pathway for Massachusetts to achieve a substantially similar result. … More
If recent history provides us with any guideposts on how the current Administration will review and approve (or not approve) State waiver requests, today’s news may come as a bit of a surprise. In the wake of recent approvals of never-before-seen waivers — including the imposition of new work requirements in Kentucky, Indiana , and Arkansas — today we learned that CMS has said no to lifetime limits on Medicaid benefits in the state of Kansas.… More
On December 15, 2017, CMS Director Brian Neale informed State Medicaid Directors of CMS’ intent to phase out funding for Designated State Health Programs (DSHP) in Section 1115 waivers. CMS will no longer approve waiver requests under Section 1115 for DSHP funding, and will not renew portions of existing waivers that provide DSHP funding.
On November 6, 2017 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an information bulletin on changes and improvements to the existing Section 1115 waiver process. Under Section 1115(a) of the Social Security Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is permitted to waive compliance with any of the requirements of section 1902 of the Act (which generally sets forth the requirements for state Medicaid programs in order to receive Federal financial assistance) in order to pilot or test projects which,… More
On July 21, 2017, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (“EOHHS”) announced its intent to submit a request to amend its existing MassHealth Section 1115 Demonstration to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”). If approved (by both the State legislature, and CMS), it would be the most sweeping change to any state’s Medicaid pharmacy benefit to date. We previously previewed some of the changes EOHHS was considering under the new flexibility granted to states under the Price/Verma administration on this blog.… More
On March 22, 2017, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma taking her and HHS Secretary Tom Price up on their offer to grant states more flexibility under the Medicaid program. In her letter, Secretary Sudders pointed to four aspects of the Medicaid program from which Massachusetts would like “immediate relief” and greater flexibility:
- Flexibility in benefit design;…
Currently, nearly 10 million Americans are dually-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These “dual eligibles” are low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities who are separately eligible for and receive coverage under both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In general, Medicare acts as the primary payer for dual-eligibles, while Medicaid provides “wrap-around” coverage for these individuals, helping with some out-of-pocket costs (such as premiums, copayments and deductibles) and offering coverage for services not otherwise covered by Medicare (vision,… More
On November 4, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) sent word to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS, referred to here as “MassHealth”) that it approved a major amendment to Massachusetts’ section 1115 demonstration project through June 30, 2017. At the same time, CMS also approved an extension of this same demonstration through June 30, 2022. Approval of Massachusetts’ waiver amendment comes after nearly a year of negotiations and may ultimately result in the transition of the vast majority of MassHealth enrollees into newly-formed Accountable Care Organizations (“ACOs”) operating under one three models,… More
We frequently read about state Medicaid programs receiving or being granted “waivers” by CMS, but what does that mean exactly? What is a “waiver”? What is the history of Medicaid waivers? How does the process work? We hope to answer these questions in this blog post.
The Legal Standard
A “waiver” refers to authority that the Secretary of Health and Human Services possesses under section 1115 of the Social Security Act:
“(a) In the case of any experimental,… More