Delay of Medicaid changes advanced

A bill that would postpone certain proposed Medicaid authorization and payment changes advanced from general file March 7.

LB1076, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell, would postpone until 2015 changes in Medicaid authorization and payment for medically necessary home health services and reimbursement rates.

Campbell said the bill would require the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to review the outcomes obtained by 17 other states that have utilized the federal Balancing Incentive Program, which is intended to increase access to noninstitutional services for disabled adults and the elderly.

Those pilot programs conclude in 2015, she said, and LB1076 would give DHHS access to their experience before making proposed changes to Medicaid reimbursement rates for home health services in Nebraska.

“We should learn from [other states] and LB1076 will give us the chance to do so,” Campbell said. Among the outcomes DHHS should be looking for are cost-effective payment structures and standards for home health provider training, she said.

A Health and Human Services Committee amendment, adopted 31-0, clarified that the bill would mandate no reduction in reimbursement rates and no changes in limitations on services for Medicaid home health.

Services that could not be changed would include, but not be limited to, more than one home health visit in a day to provide skilled nursing services, nursing services and aide services.

Campbell said the amendment corrected a drafting error in LB1076 and would eliminate the bill’s fiscal impact.

Hoskins Sen. Dave Bloomfield supported the bill, saying there are some services that the state has a duty to provide.

“Young people and the vulnerable are not the place to save a few bucks,” he said.

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha also supported the bill, saying DHHS has a history of cutting services without reason or adequate warning. Lawmakers need to hold the department accountable, he said, especially on behalf of the vulnerable populations it serves.

“We legislate, we appropriate and – most importantly – we provide the oversight,” Krist said.

The bill advanced to select file on a 31-0 vote.

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