CMS has announced tightened Medicaid rules for private insurance plans that administer most Medicaid benefits for the poor. The Obama administration says the rules will limit profits, ease enrollment, require minimum levels of participating doctors and eventually provide quality ratings. However, those ratings would still be years away as the industry continues to fight against such measures.
Kaiser Health News provides details on the biggest changes for Medicaid managed care in a decade. The new rules will:
- Require states to set rules ensuring Medicaid plans have enough physicians in the right places. The standards will include “time and distance” maximums to ensure doctors aren’t too far away from members.
- Limit insurer profits by requiring rate setting that assumes 85 percent of revenue will be spent on medical care. Unlike a similar rule for other plans, such as insurance sold through Obamacare marketplaces, the requirement would not compel Medicaid insurers to rebate the difference if they don’t hit 85 percent. Future rates would be adjusted instead.
- Make plans regularly update directories of doctors and hospitals. A 2014 investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general found that half the doctors listed in official insurer directories weren’t taking new Medicaid patients.
- Push plans to better detect and prevent fraud by providers, including mandatory reporting of suspected abuse to the states.
- Tighten rules for Medicaid plans and states to collect patient data and submit it to HHS.
- Make it easier for states to offer managed-care plans incentives to improve clinical outcomes, reduce costs and share patient information among hospitals and doctors.
Nearly two-thirds of Medicaid’s 72 million member are enrolled in private managed-care plans. Consumer advocates have pushed HHS to set stricter rules for managed-care plans, which they said too often favored profits over patients. The industry and some state Medicaid directors resisted, saying plans needed flexibility to serve different members in different states.
The rules will be phased-in over the next three years, starting next summer.