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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions are used to provide additional information and/or statutory guidance not found in State Medicaid Director Letters, State Health Official Letters, or CMCS Informational Bulletins. The different sets of FAQs as originally released can be accessed below.

FAQ Library

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What verification services will be available from the Federal data services hub on October 1, 2013 ("Day 1")?

The Federal data services hub will provide the following services on Day 1. CMS is also pursuing data sources for additional verifications through the Federal data services hub and will keep states updated as they are confirmed:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) verification via the Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Citizenship verification via SSA or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when relevant
  • Incarceration verification via SSA
  • Title II benefit income information via SSA (monthly and annual amounts)
  • Quarters of coverage information via SSA
  • MAGI income information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Max APTC from IRS
  • Immigration status verification via DHS, as well as a translation to indicators for lawful presence, qualified non-citizen, and five year bar status.
  • Public minimum essential coverage (MEC) verification from Federal agencies

FAQ ID:93266

What will a State need to do to invoke the Federal data hub services?

All transactional requests to the Federal data services hub shall be performed via web services. These services shall be invoked by State IT systems via application programming interfaces (API) or Web APIs that are accessed via secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and shall be executed on the system hosting the requested services. The CMS web services shall accept request from trusted sources, perform the function based on the request, and return a response to the State system. CMS shall publish these web services in the CMS Service Catalog, which shall contain all services available to the states and the definitions of the standards that must be met to request the service and standard data format for the data provided when making the request and the data that shall be returned.

CMS is still determining the best mechanism for how batch and bulk data transactions will be designed and implemented. At this stage, CMS believes that there shall be a need to establish both web services and possibly alternate interfaces to meet batch and bulk data transaction requirements.

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FAQ ID:93281

What will be the role of the FFE in reviewing applications from individuals with incomes below 133% of the FPL in states that do not implement the Medicaid expansion?

The FFE's role is the same whether or not a state implements the Medicaid expansion for low-income adults. The FFE will still make MAGI-based determinations or assessments of eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP and will assess eligibility for premium tax credits and cost sharing. The FFE will apply the state's eligibility levels for Medicaid/CHIP when it makes the Medicaid determination or assessment. In addition, as established in the Exchange and Medicaid/CHIP eligibility final rules, the FFE will electronically transfer accounts for individuals who are either determined or assessed as eligible for Medicaid and CHIP (it is a state option whether to have the FFE determine or assess eligibility) for further evaluation/action.

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FAQ ID:93256

When does CMS need to know states' intention to proceed with the Medicaid expansion for purposes of the FFE build? What if a State adopts the expansion too late to have the change accommodated by the FFE (at least for some period of time); how would the coordination provisions of the law be accommodated?

There is no deadline by which states need to decide on the Medicaid expansion. We understand that there are many considerations involved in this decision, and CMS stands ready to work with states on their individual timetables. Regardless of the expansion, every state that uses the Federally Facilitated Exchange will need to support coordination between the Medicaid and CHIP programs and the FFE and otherwise comply with the new MAGI rules as well as the application, renewal and verification procedures described in the Medicaid eligibility final rule issued March 23, 2012 (available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-23/pdf/2012- 6560.pdf). We will be working with each state to ensure that the appropriate business rules are accommodated and tested, and the necessary electronic account handoffs are in place, before the FFE is operational and the new Medicaid rules are in effect. We are continuing to provide more guidance and information on these issues as part of the FFE manual and MOU process as well as through our SOTA calls. We are also establishing a state- to- FFE change process to help manage changes in policies that a state may make over time; a state that decides later to proceed with expansion will be accommodated within that process.

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FAQ ID:93236

Will CMS charge state-based exchanges (SBEs) or Medicaid/CHIP agencies for any of the Federal data hub services or underlying data? If so, which ones and how much?

No. We will not charge state-based exchanges (SBEs) or Medicaid/CHIP agencies for the Federal data hub services or underlying data.

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FAQ ID:93271

Will each Federal agency conduct its own audits of safeguards?

The Federal agencies involved in data verifications are currently involved in discussions of the overall approach to oversight and audits of safeguards. Certain agencies are expected to conduct their own independent audits.

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FAQ ID:93296

Will the DHS data available through the Federal data services hub include the same data elements as is currently provided directly to states?

The Federal data services hub is utilizing the same Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SAVE verification service currently available to states. States will receive both the verification data received from SAVE as well as the Federal data services hub-derived indicators of lawful presence, qualified non-citizen status, and whether the five year bar has been met where applicable.

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FAQ ID:93301

Can a state expand to less than 133% of FPL and still receive 100% federal matching funds?

No. Congress directed that the enhanced matching rate be used to expand coverage to 133% of FPL. The law does not provide for a phased-in or partial expansion. As such, we will not consider partial expansions for populations eligible for the 100 percent matching rate in 2014 through 2016. If a state that declines to expand coverage to 133% of FPL would like to propose a demonstration that includes a partial expansion, we would consider such a proposal to the extent that it furthers the purposes of the program, subject to the regular federal matching rate. For the newly eligible adults, states will have flexibility under the statute to provide benefits benchmarked to commercial plans and they can design different benefit packages for different populations. We also intend to propose further changes related to cost sharing.

In 2017, when the 100% federal funding is slightly reduced, further demonstration opportunities will become available to states under State Innovation Waivers with respect to the Exchanges, and the law contemplates that such demonstrations may be coupled with section 1115 Medicaid demonstrations. This demonstration authority offers states significant flexibility while ensuring the same level of coverage, affordability, and comprehensive coverage at no additional costs for the federal government. We will consider section 1115 Medicaid demonstrations, with the enhanced federal matching rates, in the context of these overall system demonstrations.

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FAQ ID:94566

Can a state-based Exchange certify a Medicaid bridge plan as a qualified health plan?

Yes. HHS has received questions about whether a state could allow an issuer that contracts with a state Medicaid agency as a Medicaid managed care organization to offer qualified health plans in the Exchange on a limited-enrollment basis to certain populations. This type of limited offering would permit the qualified health plan to serve as a "bridge" plan between Medicaid/CHIP coverage and private insurance. This would allow individuals transitioning from Medicaid or CHIP coverage to the Exchange to stay with the same issuer and provider network, and for family members to be covered by a single issuer with the same provider network. This approach is intended to promote continuity of coverage between Medicaid or CHIP and the Exchange.

In general, an Exchange may allow an issuer with a state Medicaid managed care organization contract to offer a qualified health plan as a Medicaid bridge plan under the following terms:

  • The state must ensure that the health insurance issuer complies with applicable laws, and in particular with section 2702 of the Public Health Service Act. Consistent with section 2702(c) of the Public Health Service Act, a health plan whose provider network reaches capacity may deny new enrollment generally while continuing to permit limited enrollment of certain individuals in order to fulfill obligations to existing group contract holders and enrollees. Therefore, if the issuer demonstrates that the provider network serving the Medicaid managed care organization and bridge plan has sufficient capacity only to provide adequate services to bridge plan eligible individuals and existing Medicaid and/or CHIP eligible enrollees, the bridge plan could generally be closed to other new enrollment. However, in order to permit additional enrollment to be limited to bridge plan eligible individuals, the state must ensure there is a legally binding contractual obligation in place requiring the Medicaid managed care organization issuer to provide such coverage to these individuals. We note that any such contract would need to have provisions to prevent cost-shifting from the non-Medicaid/CHIP population to the Medicaid/CHIP population. We also note that the guaranteed availability provision of section 2702 of the Public Health Service Act is an important protection that provides consumer access to the individual and small group markets. Accordingly, we plan to construe narrowly the network capacity exception to the general guaranteed issue requirement.
  • The Exchange must ensure that a bridge plan offered by a Medicaid managed care organization meets the qualified health plan certification requirements, and that having the Medicaid managed care organization offer the bridge plan is in the interest of consumers.
  • As part of considering whether to certify a bridge plan as a qualified health plan, the Exchange must ensure that bridge plan eligible individuals are not disadvantaged in terms of the buying power of their advance payments of premium tax credits.
  • The Exchange must accurately identify bridge plan eligible consumers, and convey to the consumer his or her qualified health plan coverage options.
  • The Exchange must provide information on bridge plan eligible individuals to the federal government, as it will for any other individuals who are eligible for qualified health plans on the Exchange, to support the administration of advance payments of premium tax credits. This will be done using the same mechanism that will be in place for the larger Exchange population.

Successful implementation of a Medicaid bridge plan will involve a high degree of coordination between the state Medicaid agency, department of insurance and the Exchange. States operating State-Based Exchanges will be best positioned to achieve the level of coordination needed to implement and support the offering of a Medicaid bridge plan on an Exchange. Additional guidance will be issued soon.

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FAQ ID:94486

Can states that are "expansion states" under the law receive newly eligible matching rate for some populations in their state?

Yes. The expansion state Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or matching rate, described in section 1905(z)(2) of the Social Security Act is available to some states that expanded Medicaid coverage prior to enactment of the Affordable Care Act, but does not exclude those states from receiving the increased newly eligible match for expenditures for beneficiaries who meet the statutory qualifications. If a population covered by a state that qualifies as an expansion state meets the criteria for the newly eligible matching rate, the state will receive the newly eligible matching rate for that population. States will receive the highest matching rate possible for a given population; being an expansion state will never disadvantage the state in terms of matching rates for that population.

The following are several examples of circumstances in which an expansion state will receive the newly eligible matching rate for some beneficiaries:

  • States are considered expansion states if, as of March 23, 2010, they provided coverage that meets the standards specified in section 1905(z)(3) of the Act to both childless adults and parents up to at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level. If a state provided Medicaid coverage up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level but not above, expenditures for individuals between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for the newly eligible matching rate.
  • States that qualify as expansion states may have offered less than full benefits, benchmark benefits, or benchmark-equivalent benefits. Individuals who received limited benefits under a Medicaid expansion will qualify as "newly eligible" individuals and the newly eligible matching rate will apply.
  • States that qualify as expansion states based on the provision of state-funded coverage will receive the newly eligible matching rate for people previously covered by the state-only program, since they will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage.

The expansion state matching rate is only available for expenditures for non-pregnant, childless adult populations described in the new low-income adult group. CMS will work with states to ensure that the correct matching rate is applied to expenditures for populations in expansion states that qualify as newly eligible.

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FAQ ID:94601

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