What Happens When Voters OK Medicaid Expansion, But Governor Refuses To Listen?

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State names 9 Medicaid health plans but challenges loom


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida officials on Tuesday announced the names of the nine health plans the state wants to ink contracts with to provide health care to nearly four million poor, elderly and disabled residents.

The decision is not final, though, and Molina Healthcare of Florida and Positive Healthcare — both of which currently have contracts, but would be shut out of the Medicaid program between 2019-2024 — have said they plan on challenging the Agency for Health Care Administration’s decision.

Florida Medicaid Director Beth Kidder said earlier that the contracts could be the largest ever awarded by the state, and could be worth more than $90 billion dollars over a five-year period.

If the agency’s decision stands, Sunshine Health Plan will operate in all 11 regions of the state. Sunshine Health would offer Medicaid beneficiaries access to a traditional plan as well as a separate “child welfare” specialty plan.

Simply Healthcare Plans, meanwhile, will offer a specialty plan for people with HIV and AIDS in all 11 regions.

Humana was picked as a provider in 10 of the 11 regions across the state, but failed to win a bid in Medicaid Region 1, which includes Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties.

Meanwhile, WellCare of Florida, which will operate under the moniker of Staywell Health Plan of Florida, will offer access to a mental health specialty plan in all 11 Medicaid regions. It also will offer access to a traditional Medicaid managed care plan in nine of the 11 Medicaid regions, after being shut out of Regions 1 and 10. Region 10 is comprised solely of Broward County.

Florida Community Care and Best Care Assurance are two new Medicaid managed-care plans enrollees would have access to, if the state’s selections stand. Florida Community Care will be offered in every region but North Florida Region 2, which includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties.

Best Care Assurance will operate under the name Horizon Health Plan and will be made available in Medicaid Region 8, made up of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota counties.

While the state will offer new plans, some health plans that currently have Medicaid contracts weren’t included in the list of nine announced Tuesday. Those include Molina Healthcare of Florida; Positive Healthcare, the plan offered by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Prestige Health Choice; and Magellan Complete Care.

The Legislature passed a sweeping rewrite of the state’s Medicaid program in 2011, requiring nearly all beneficiaries, from the cradle to the grave, to enroll in managed-care plans. For purposes of contracting, AHCA divided the state into 11 different regions and negotiated contracts for each region.

The state issued its invitation to negotiate, the second under the Medicaid managed-care program, in July 2017.

News Service of Florida

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Feds again deny state’s attempt to use Medicaid funds to train doctors

Oklahoma officials wanted to use a different payment structure to handle the federal matching funds, which had flowed through a complicated arrangement to the Health Care Authority and the medical schools

OKLAHOMA CITY – The state will have to find another way to help fund graduate medical education by July 2019 if it wants to use Medicaid matching funds after the federal government denied the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s latest bid to fix the program’s funding issues.

If a solution can’t be found, the state will have to continue to pick up an estimated $110 million in annual funding for residency programs at medical schools run by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Lawmakers in March passed an emergency appropriation to keep the graduate medical education programs going through the upcoming fiscal year.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter Tuesday to state Medicaid officials outlining its reasons for denying a new demonstration program proposed by the Health Care Authority. The federal agency denied an earlier fix in December, saying Oklahoma was indirectly subsidizing medical school training with its Medicaid matching funds.

Part of the reluctance by the federal agency to continue the program was from higher reimbursement rates for doctors at the medical schools, Oklahoma Watch found in a review of agency correspondence and conference calls.

In the latest application, Oklahoma officials wanted to use a different payment structure to handle the federal matching funds, which had flowed through a complicated arrangement to the Health Care Authority and the medical schools.

In its letter, the federal agency said Oklahoma didn’t provide enough proof that the Medicaid matching funds for graduate medical education were “clearly tied to the provision of medical services to Medicaid beneficiaries.”

“Oklahoma’s proposal has not clearly demonstrated how the requested payments are similarly linked,” said the letter from Acting Director Tim Hill. “It is our view that such an arrangement would circumvent the statutory purpose of the Medicaid program, which does not include direct medical training.”

In a joint statement, OSU and OU medical schools said they were disappointed with the denial.

“Oklahoma has many pressing health care needs and the state medical schools play a unique and valuable role in addressing them,” the statement said. “Moving forward, we will continue to work with state and federal officials to ensure that these important health care programs remain available to the underserved patient communities across Oklahoma. We greatly appreciate the continued cooperation of all parties as we work toward that goal.”

The federal Centers in December recalled about $31 million in matching funds for part of the last federal fiscal year. The Health Care Authority is appealing that action.

In a statement, Health Care Authority CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard expressed disappointment with the federal agency’s decision and questioned what was missing from the state’s submission.

“We believe the state did everything that was expected to meet the criteria listed by CMS which promote the objectives of Medicaid and was responsive to all requests from CMS for additional data and documentation. We will continue to work with CMS and our stakeholders to discuss any possible path forward,” the statement said.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on a range of public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to www.oklahomawatch.org.

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Governor Insists On Work-For-Coverage Requirement In Kan. Medicaid Rules

By JIM MCLEAN

A behind-the-scenes struggle over proposed changes to Kansas’ Medicaid program is coming down to the wire.

Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer has offered concessions. But he appears determined to stick with his proposal to make some non-disabled recipients work, or undergo job training, for their health care coverage.

Kansas Medicaid Director Jon Hamdorf, right, talks with House Minority Leader Jim Ward in the Statehouse. Hamdorf is the administration’s point person on KanCare 2.0, which would add a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. Ward opposes the plan.
JIM MCLEAN / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jon Hamdorf, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment official who oversees the state’s privatized Medicaid program known as KanCare, said the governor believes “very strongly that work is a pathway to independence.”

The Colyer administration is seeking federal approval of a work requirement as part of its KanCare 2.0 proposal. That plan, submitted late last year, would extend a federal waiver that allows the state to contract with three private companies to operate KanCare, a $3 billion program that covers more than 420,000 low-income, elderly and disabled Kansans.

Historically, federal officials have rejected requirements that could deny coverage to people who would otherwise be eligible. The Trump administration wants to reverse that policy.

“We need to stop KanCare 2.0 where it is and there is limited time to do so,” said Sean Gatewood, a former Democratic legislator who now heads the KanCare Advocates Network.

At the outset of the 2018 session, bills were introduced in both the House and Senate to block the administration from implementing KanCare 2.0. Neither has passed, but language prohibiting the administration from moving forward was added to the Senate’s budget bill.

Even if the House agrees with that provision, Gatewood said it may not be enough to stop KanCare 2.0 because Colyer’s line-item veto power would allow him to strike just that language before signing the bill.

If that happens it would probably be after the end of the session, meaning lawmakers wouldn’t have a chance to override the governor’s veto.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat running for governor, said a majority of lawmakers oppose KanCare 2.0.

“It is appalling,” Ward said, that the voices of those legislators “are being stifled.”

In addition to the work requirement, Colyer’s KanCare 2.0 proposal would impose a lifetime benefit limit on some enrollees.

To show that he’s heard the concerns of lawmakers and stakeholder, Hamdorf said, the governor would be willing to back off his call for benefit caps if allowed to pursue a work requirement.

No deal, Ward said.

 “There is no independent data that shows work requirements do anything except reduce the number of people who get health care,” he said.In addition to Colyer’s controversial proposals, opposition to KanCare 2.0 stems from longstanding problems with the existing program. Those problemsinclude application backlogs, payment disputes and reductions in services — particularly those that help keep persons with disabilities in their homes and out of institutions.

Hamdorf, whose efforts to address the program’s administrative problems have earned him high marks from legislators, is currently focused on clearing the application backlog. He’s put Maximus, the company that operates the application clearinghouse, on notice. If it’s not living up to the terms of its contract by June, he said, the state is prepared to assess fines that could total tens of millions of dollars.

“I’ve made a commitment to the people in this program,” he said. “We’re going to turn this around.”

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks

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Arc of Anchorage to pay nearly $2.3 million in settlement over Medicaid billing

An Anchorage nonprofit that serves people with developmental or intellectual disabilities has agreed to settle allegations about false Medicaid claims.

“The state contends the Arc submitted or authorized the submission of false claims to the Alaska Medicaid Program,” the statement said. “Specifically, the state contends the Arc billed for services not provided, and billed for overlapping services with the same provider. The state further contends that the Arc failed to repay money owed to the Medicaid Program identified in audits performed by the Arc.”

The Arc received formal notice that an investigation was underway in May 2016, the nonprofit said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

The organization’s current CEO, Barbara Rodriguez-Rath, was not in her current role when the billing problems occurred, the statement said. The billings in question happened between 2012 and 2016.

As part of the settlement agreement, the Arc of Anchorage is also required to enter into a five-year “corporate integrity agreement” with the Office of the Inspector General to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the future.

“The board was fully informed about this issue and it has been a trying time, but we have confidence that our current leadership has initiated needed reforms,” Wes Clubb, president of the Arc’s board of directors, said in the statement. “The board and management are working as a team to preserve and protect the mission of The Arc.”

The Arc has already taken steps “to improve internal financial management systems, including additional financial reporting and more frequent auditing of Medicaid billing practices,” the nonprofit’s statement said.

“The Arc acknowledges past billing errors that violated rules and procedures,” the statement said. “The Arc would also like to make it clear that there was never any deliberate attempt to defraud the state by submitting information we knew to be inaccurate.”

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Office of Inspector General, the Alaska Medicaid Program and the Arc of Anchorage.

“The goal of this resolution was to make the Alaska Medicaid Program whole, keep the Arc in business, and send a strong message of deterrence to other providers. I believe the agreement accomplishes these goals,” Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said in a written statement. The settlement also means avoiding prolonged litigation, she said.

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Medicaid minus stigma: In Indian Country, it’s part of the fabric of life

Gallup, N.M. • On a crisp sunny day, Tyson Toledo, a precocious 5-year-old boy, hobbled into a private health clinic to have his infected foot examined.

Pediatrician Gayle Harrison told his mother to continue to apply antibiotic ointment and reminded them to come back if the swelling and redness worsened.

The appointment at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services’ outpatient center comes at no charge for the Toledo family, who live 30 miles away on the Navajo Nation Reservation. That’s because Tyson is covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor.

New Mexico leads all other states in Medicaid enrollment, with 43 percent of its residents on the program. That’s partly because the state has a large Native American population, living in communities historically riven with poverty. The numbers offer an eye-popping snapshot of the promotion of Medicaid expansion since 2013: Nearly a third of the 900,000 New Mexico beneficiaries joined as part of the Affordable Care Act’s option to expand Medicaid.

Kaiser Health News is examining Medicaid’s role in the U.S. as the health care program comes under renewed fire from Republicans who generally want to put the brakes on the program, even as many Democrats credit the expansion with reducing the number of uninsured Americans to historic lows. Conservatives view the costs as prohibitive for state and federal budgets.

Nina Owcharenko, a senior research fellow in health policy with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the enrollment boost is “not a positive story.” While the high enrollment underscores the pervasive poverty in New Mexico, it also signals surging costs for taxpayers, she said.

“I am growing more concerned about the cost of shifting Medicaid dollars to the federal government and without a budget cap on the program. … That is a dangerous fiscal course for the country,” she said.

“This is a problem that needs to be fixed. … We need to find a way that is more rational and more fiscally sustainable,” said Owcharenko, who was a top Health and Human Services official in 2016.

In Gallup, a city of about 23,000 people, Medicaid is as much a part of the fabric as Native American-crafted jewelry and green chile sauce. Recipients include the waitress at the downtown bar, the clerk at a loan store and the maid at the hotel.

And multigenerational families are common in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County. Tyson’s mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle also are enrolled in Medicaid.

Fifty-two percent of the county’s residents have coverage through the program. That’s the highest rate among U.S. counties with at least 65,000 people, according to a KHN analysis of Census data.

“Pretty much everybody is on Medicaid here,” said Libby Garcia, 36, who lives in a trailer overlooking downtown Gallup.

Garcia, who works as a custodian at a local Head Start agency, quit a second job cleaning businesses because that extra income would put her over the eligibility level for coverage. She can’t afford private insurance, and Medicaid gives her free care at a community health center and insulin and other medicines for her diabetes without out-of-pocket costs, she said.

McKinley, where more than 40 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level ($12,140 for an individual), is the nation’s only county of at least 65,000 people in which more than half the population is on Medicaid. Nationwide, about 23 percent of Americans are enrolled, with more than 16 million people added since the expansion.

In McKinley County, many residents see Medicaid as vital. There’s no stigma around it, and enrollees and providers speak positively about it.

The heavy concentration of Medicaid in this high-altitude desert is a result of two factors: the high poverty rate and the Indian Health Service’s relentless work to enroll patients in the program.

Large swaths of McKinley County lie within the Navajo Nation, the largest Indian reservation in the United States. Nearly 80 percent of McKinley County’s 75,000 residents are Native American.

Medicaid enrollees in Gallup say the coverage has opened up new opportunities for them to get more timely care, especially surgery and mental health services. It has been vital in combating high rates of obesity, teen birth, suicide and diabetes, according to local health officials.

Outside a local Dollar Tree store, Linda James, 55, who sells jewelry she makes, said Medicaid paid for her son’s braces and her teenage daughter’s drug rehabilitation. “It’s a lifesaver for us,” she said, noting it helps her get quicker care than waiting at Indian Health facilities.

For the Gallup Indian Medical Center — the main Indian Health Service facility in the area — Medicaid has stoked the local budget and eased overcrowding. When patients on Medicaid are treated there, the center is reimbursed by the program. That money supplements the Indian Health Service’s annual federal grant, which is set by Congress.

Last year, Medicaid funding made up 34 percent of the center’s $207 million budget. Among all U.S. hospitals, Medicaid provided only 18.5 percent of revenue. “Medicaid has become the safety net for the Indian Health Service,” said John Ratmeyer, deputy chief of pediatrics at the Gallup Indian Medical Center. “It’s providing an extra pod of money to pay for services not within our hospital system.”

Medicaid this year is projected to add more than $800 million to Indian Health Service hospital funding, supplementing the $4.8 billion in annual federal appropriation.

The medical center in Gallup looks like a relic of the 1960s, with fading-blue exterior walls, sandstone-colored outpatient trailers, cramped nursing stations and hard plastic seats in its emergency room waiting area. The hospital doesn’t have an MRI machine or any designated private patient rooms.

“One of our biggest challenges is just maintaining the building,” said Dr. Kevin Gaines, acting deputy clinical director at the hospital. The extra money coming from patients covered by Medicaid are helping the center pay for a badly needed $13 million modernization of its ER and urgent care unit, he said.

Another problem is a shortage of nurses and doctors, which leads to long wait times for patients — three or four months for primary care appointments or for dental services or eyeglasses. Some patients seeking specialized care need to go 140 miles to Albuquerque, a hardship for many Native Americans, some of whom don’t have access to cars or money for such transportation. But Medicaid will cover some non-emergency transportation for medical appointments.

The county has a host of medical challenges related to its economic problems. According to a 2016 report sponsored by Rehoboth McKinley, the county’s suicide rate for ages 10 and up is twice the U.S. average, alcohol-related deaths are nearly four times higher than the national rate, and teen birth rates are three times the U.S. average. Average life expectancy in McKinley is 74 years, four years less than the typical U.S. life span.

Without Medicaid covering doctor visits and substance abuse treatment, the situation would likely be worse, said Larry Curley, director of program development for Rehoboth McKinley.

This kind of care doesn’t come cheap. The federal government paid the full cost of the expansion through 2016, but now New Mexico and other states have to pick up a 5 percent share. To deal with rising costs, the state in 2017 began cutting the fees it pays hospitals, doctors and other providers.

Asked about her Medicaid health plan while at a popular doughnut shop, Corrine Rosales, 60, of Gallup, said it’s invaluable for her and her two young nieces, Mya and Destiny. Medicaid pays for her diabetes medications and helped Mya get treated for attention-deficit disorder.

“I don’t know what we would do without it,” she said.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

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Maine governor defies ballot initiative expanding Medicaid

Maine residents voted decisively last fall to expand the state’s Medicaid program. But almost six months later, Gov. Paul LePage, a tea party Republican, still refuses to take action as the state’s legislative session winds down, putting the Obamacare coverage program in doubt.

LePage, a tea party Republican who’s derided Medicaid expansion as a “boondoggle,” for years vetoed bills to join the program. Frustrated state lawmakers thought they finally found a way around the recalcitrant governor last November, when nearly 60 percent of Maine voters approved the first-ever ballot initiative on Medicaid expansion.

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“That we have had to fight this battle time and again is discouraging,” said Andi Parkinson, an organizer with the nonprofit Kennebec Valley Organization.

The ballot initiative made Maine the 32nd state to embrace Medicaid expansion and one of the rare states to do it as the Trump administration pushes unprecedented new restraints on the program, including work requirements for some.

Undeterred by Maine’s fight, however, health care advocates are backing similar ballot initiatives in other Republican-led states this year, hoping that voters will override conservative governors and legislatures. Ballot measure campaigns are underway in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah. Meanwhile, Virginia‘s legislature is the only statehouse where lawmakers are seriously debating Medicaid expansion this year.

LePage, now in his last year in office, has insisted he won’t green-light expansion, which is expected to cover 80,000 low-income Maine adults, unless state lawmakers meet his conditions for funding the program that he contends could otherwise bankrupt the state. As chances of a deal with LePage dwindle, the organizers of the Maine ballot initiative are now preparing for a legal showdown to enforce voters’ wishes.

“The law is clear,” said Robyn Merrill of Maine Equal Justice Partners, an advocacy group that spearheaded the Medicaid expansion referendum. “People will have a right [to coverage] and we will represent them in court.“

Individuals are supposed to become eligible for Medicaid coverage on July 2, according to the Maine ballot measure. The legislative stalemate leaves few options other than litigation to force LePage’s hand. Ultimately, the issue may not be resolved until after Maine elects its next governor in the fall.

Supporters say there’s no doubt the state will eventually adopt the program — it’s just a question of whether it comes after a quick legislative resolution or a protracted legal fight.

Obamacare supporters in Maine say the LePage administration has already ignored timelines mandated by the ballot initiative. Maine earlier this month skipped a deadline to file routine paperwork notifying the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services it would join the Obamacare expansion.

LePage’s office and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act covers low-income adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line — roughly $16,800 for an individual and $34,600 for a family of four. While the federal government provides the vast majority of Medicaid expansion funding, states this year must contribute 6 percent of the costs, and their share eventually rises to 10 percent.

Maine lawmakers left late last week without formally closing the session after a Medicaid expansion funding deal fell apart. Split control of the Maine Legislature has complicated the Medicaid expansion talks this year. Republicans narrowly control the Senate, but they have been more receptive to Medicaid expansion. Democrats run the state House, where Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to the program and the debate has been tied up in a battle related to taxes and a minimum wage increase.

“The Democrats are obsessed with Medicaid expansion, to the point where they’re risking our most vulnerable in the state by demanding that they be put in the spending package,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, one of four Republican candidates running to replace the term-limited LePage.

LePage has argued Democrats are inviting a fiscal crisis by expanding the program, and he’s insisted that state lawmakers can’t tap into rainy day funds or raise taxes to fund it. Democrats say the state already has enough money in the budget to cover Maine’s costs through next May.

The deal that collapsed last week would have provided the Maine health department with $3.8 million to cover administrative costs associated with expansion, including the hiring of new staff.

LePage and lawmakers, however, have disputed how much the state should expect to spend on health benefits for new Medicaid enrollees. LePage’s health department says it will cost the state roughly $60 million for the 2019 fiscal year to provide coverage, about double the estimate from the state’s independent Office of Fiscal and Program Review.

Lawmakers will eventually return for a veto session this year, but it’s unclear when or whether they’ll revisit Medicaid.

Advocates pushing for ballot measures say they’re not discouraged by the Maine dispute because they expect other states would defer to their voters if they approved the program.

“We’re confident that we can overcome any legislative or executive opposition to it,” said Jonathan Schleifer of the Fairness Project, a national group that is bankrolling the state ballot campaigns. “If there are fights after the fact, we’re ready to fight those fights.”

Last week, Obamacare supporters in Utah submitted more than 165,000 signatures to state officials to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot, well above the requirement for 113,000 valid signatures. Utah’s lieutenant governor will announce by next month whether the measure qualifies for the November ballot.

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Year-long Medicaid program increases access to opioid addiction treatment in Virginia


RICHMOND, Va. – There’s a positive sign Monday in the fight against opioid addiction in Virginia. State health officials announced a one-year program has been successful in combating the crisis.

At a gathering in Richmond, officials released the results of a Medicaid initiative, the Addictions and Recovery Treatment Services program, called ARTS. It combines medication with counseling and other support for addiction treatment, including inpatient detoxification and residential substance use disorder treatment.

Officials compared data from a 9-month period ending in December of 2017 to the same time the year prior and found increased access to treatment and reduced stress on hospital emergency departments.

Data shows there was a nearly two-thirds increase in the number of Medicaid members receiving treatment for a substance use disorder, up to 16,600, and both the number of opioid pain medication prescriptions and emergency hospital visits from Medicaid members decreased by nearly a third.

“We have convincing evidence to show that the strategies that we implemented through the ARTS program are working,” Department of Medical Assistance Services Director Jennifer Lee said. “They are making a difference to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia.”

Officials said training and incentives have led to more locations for treatment. The ARTS program strengthened qualifications for providers and increased reimbursement rates for those who follow research-guided treatment regimens. 

Virginia was the fourth state to obtain permission from federal health officials to use Medicaid funds for residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, greatly increasing access to residential services.

“Individuals, families, and communities across the Commonwealth are counting on us to implement solutions like ARTS and bring them to scale in order reduce the human toll from these addictive drugs,” Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey said.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam released a statement Monday, saying the results support the argument for putting more resources into Medicaid.

“If we expand our Medicaid eligibility to cover up to 400,000 more Virginians, as I have proposed, this initiative could save many more lives,” Northam said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its second year of funding for the program. Virginia is scheduled to receive $9.76 million.

Copyright 2018 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.

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Census: Immigrants on welfare triples, Medicaid doubles

Caption +
Jesus Berrones holds his five-year-old son, Jayden, as his wife, Sonia, looks on at the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, where he has sought sanctuary to avoid deportation back to his native Mexico. The church is among congregations around the US who allow some special cases of immigrants scheduled for deportation to stay in their sanctuaries until the legal threat has passed. Jayden was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and is undergoing a three-year course of chemotherapy. (Anita Snow/AP)

Welfare and Medicaid use by new immigrants, even those with college degrees, has surged to new levels, an indication that the jobs they came to America to take aren’t there, according to a new report.

The Census Bureau charted the growth in the use of taxpayer-funded programs for financially poor new immigrants and found the biggest rise in the use of welfare, roughly triple over the last 10 years.

And, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies, the use of Medicaid by immigrants has gone up nearly as much.

Steven Camarota, the center’s director of research and the study’s lead author, highlighted those two Census data points in noting that it has happened despite the increase in education levels for immigrants. He also found that new immigrants are twice as likely to live in poverty as native born Americans.

His key findings in the report titled Better Educated, But Not Better Off:

  • The share of new immigrants in poverty was slightly higher in 2017 than in 2007, and the gap with natives widened slightly. Overall, new immigrants remained twice as likely to live in poverty as natives.
  • In 2007, 6 percent of new immigrants were on Medicaid; by 2017 it was 17 percent — an 11 percentage-point increase. The share of natives on Medicaid increased from 7 percent to 13 percent — a six percent­age-point increase. New immigrants are now more likely to use the program than natives.
  • The share of new immigrants living in households receiving food stamps roughly tripled from 4 percent to 13 percent from 2007 to 2017. Among natives, food stamp use also increased, but not as much, from about 6 percent to 10 percent. New immigrants are now more likely to live in a household on food stamps.

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Jamestown man charged in Medicaid fraud

A Jamestown man has been charged in allegedly stealing more than $7,500 from Medicaid.

State dAttorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the arrest of Haimid Thompson, a/k/a “Mookie”, for allegedly stealing by submitting false claims for rides he claimed he provided to a Medicaid recipient through the taxi service 716 Transportation, Inc. (716).

Thompson allegedly paid an individual, who was working with the Attorney General’s office, to request transportation services from 716 and then falsely reported to the company that he provided daily rides to that individual. The Attorney General’s ongoing investigation into Medicaid transit scams-an investigation dubbed “Operation Ghost Ride”-revealed that 716 submitted claims to, and received payment from, Medicaid for rides that in fact did not take place.

Thompson was arrested on a 30-count felony complaint and was released on $5,000 bail. He is charged with third-degree grand larceny, a class D felony; first-degree offering a false instrument for filin, a class E felony; first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony; and Prohibited Practice by a Medical Assistance Provider, a class E felony. Thompson will return to court on April 27.

“The false reporting of medical transports by taxi drivers costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year in phony bills,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to prosecute such fraudulent practices in order to protect Medicaid resources for the vulnerable New Yorkers who rely on them.”

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