5500 Preparer's Manual for 2012 Plan Years
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from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: For the last few years, states have been leading the way toward more comprehensive health care coverage to ensure that more people have or can obtain health insurance. Because of the potential impact of this ongoing activity on employer-provided health insurance benefits, Spencer’s Benefits Reports provides regular updates about state health care reform.
Iowa. Under proposed changes to IowaCare, poor, uninsured adults from throughout the state could receive health care at nearby hospitals and clinics, instead of having to travel to Iowa City. For most Iowa residents, the IowaCare program pays for medical care only at University of Iowa hospitals. The rules mean western Iowans must travel hundreds of miles to receive health care under the program. Legislators are considering loosening those rules, but only if federal officials would help pay for the changes. About 33,500 Iowans are covered by the program, which offers basic health care to poor adults who do not qualify for Medicaid. For more information, visit http://www.ime.state.ia.us/IowaCare/index.html.
Kansas. Thousands of Kansas children have become eligible for low-cost health insurance due to an expansion of the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). Under the new rules, the eligibility limit for the Kansas CHIP will increase from 200% of the federal poverty level to 250%. That translates to about $44,000 per year for a family of three or $53,000 per year for a family of four. For more information, visit http://www.khpa.ks.gov/healthwave/.
Massachusetts. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require every full- and part-time college student in the state to have at least the basic level of health insurance required under the state’s 2006 health care reform law. Under the proposal, any public or private institution of higher learning that fails to insure its students would face fines of $1 per student for every day the student remains uninsured. For more information, visit http://www.mass.gov/dph/.
Montana. The state’s Healthy Montana Kids program has faced a large backlog of applications. The program, approved by voter initiative in 2008, expands Medicaid and CHIP, with the goal of covering an additional 29,000 children in low- and moderate-income families in Montana. More than 2,300 families have applied for the program for the first time since September, and only about 740 children have been added. Officials blame the backlog on a computer program. For more information, visit http://hmk.mt.gov/.
North Carolina. The federal government is giving the state a $1.5 million grant to provide monthly subsidies to people to aid participation in the state’s high-risk insurance pool. The state’s high-risk pool provides health care coverage for those who cannot find affordable insurance in the private market. For more information, visit http://nchirp.org/.
Tennessee. The state has cut off enrollment for two health insurance programs for low-income people: the CoverKids program, which is the state’s CHIP, and CoverTN, an insurance program designed for the self-employed and working poor. State officials say that with a projected $1.5 billion shortfall in the state’s $29 billion budget, there is no extra money to go around. For more information, visit http://www.covertn.gov/.
Washington. Recent budget cuts have forced the state’s low-cost health insurance program, Washington’s Basic Health plan, to take no new customers, while the recession has increased demand for the plan. Approximately 78,834 people are enrolled in the plan, while 78,419 people are on the plan’s waiting list. For more information, visit http://www.basichealth.hca.wa.gov/.
Wisconsin. The state is anticipating cutting more than $600 million from its Medicaid program. The areas targeted for cuts include delaying payments into the budget next year, increasing generic drug usage, reducing rural hospital reimbursement payments, and rebidding contracts for state health care programs. Even with those reductions, high demand from the poor for health insurance benefits could result in up to a $150 million shortfall. For more information, visit http://dhs.wisconsin.gov/MEDICAID/.
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