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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.

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Is there a deadline for letting the federal government know if a state will be proceeding with the Medicaid expansion? How does that relate to the Exchange declaration deadline? Is HHS intending to provide guidance to states as to the process by which state plan amendments are used to adopt Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act?

No, there is no deadline by which a state must let the federal government know its intention regarding the Medicaid expansion. Nor is there any particular reason for a state to link its decision on the Exchange with its decision on the Medicaid expansion. States have a number of decision points in designing their Medicaid programs within the broad federal framework set forth in the federal statute and regulations, and the decision regarding the coverage expansion for low-income adults is one of those decisions.

As with all changes to the Medicaid state plan, a state would indicate its intention to adopt the new coverage group by submitting a Medicaid state plan amendment. If a state later chooses to discontinue coverage for the adult group, it would submit another state plan amendment to CMS. The state plan amendment process is itself undergoing modernization. As part of an overall effort to streamline business processes between CMS and states, in early 2013 CMS will begin implementing an online state plan amendment system to assist states in filing state plan amendments. We will be discussing the submission process for Affordable Care Act-related state plan amendments on our monthly State Operations and Technical Assistance calls with states and will be available to answer questions through that process.

While states have flexibility to start or stop the expansion, the applicable federal match rates for medical assistance provided to "newly eligible individuals" are tied by law to specific calendar years outlined in the statute: states will receive 100 percent support for the newly eligible adults in 2014, 2015, and 2016; 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019; and 90 percent by 2020, remaining at that level thereafter.

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FAQ ID:94551

If a state accepts the Medicaid expansion, can a state later drop out of the expansion program?

Yes. A state may choose whether and when to expand, and, if a state covers the expansion group, it may decide later to drop the coverage.

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FAQ ID:94556

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

Do you still support the Medicaid blended FMAP (matching rate) proposal in your budget?

No. We continue to seek efficiencies and identify opportunities to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in Medicaid, and we want to work with Congress, states, and stakeholders to achieve those goals while expanding access to affordable health care. The Supreme Court decision has made the higher matching rates available in the Affordable Care Act for the new groups covered even more important to incentivize states to expand Medicaid coverage. The Administration is focused on implementing the Affordable Care Act and providing assistance to states in their efforts to expand Medicaid coverage to these new groups.

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FAQ ID:94576

How does the Supreme Court ruling affect the interaction between the Exchanges and Medicaid? Will a state's decision whether or not to proceed with the Medicaid expansion have implications for the Exchange's ability to make Medicaid eligibility determinations?

As the letter from Secretary Sebelius to Governors sent on July 10, 2012 and the letter from the CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner sent on July 13, 2012 stated, the Supreme Court's decision affects the financial penalty that applies to a state that does not expand Medicaid coverage to 133% of the federal poverty level under the Affordable Care Act. No other provisions of the law were affected. Thus regardless of whether a state adopts the Medicaid expansion, the provisions related to coordination with the Exchange, including the use of standard income eligibility methods, apply. An Exchange in each state will make either a Medicaid eligibility determination or a Medicaid eligibility assessment (at the state's option) based on the Medicaid rules in the state, including the income levels at which the state's Medicaid program provides coverage.

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FAQ ID:94581

What help will be available to states to accommodate the added administrative burdens and costs they will have to bear if they expand coverage in Medicaid?

We have provided 90 percent federal matching funds for the new or improved eligibility systems that states are developing to accommodate the new modified adjusted gross income rules and to coordinate coverage with the Exchange. To further reduce system costs, we have promoted ways for states to share elements of their system builds with each other, and we will be sharing the business rules for adopting modified adjusted gross income in the new eligibility systems. In addition we are designing, with extensive state and stakeholder consultation, a new combined and streamlined application that states can adopt (or modify subject to Secretarial approval). And, we will continue exploring opportunities to provide States additional support for the administrative costs of eligibility changes. These and other initiatives relating to state systems development will lower administrative costs.

Implementation of the on-line application system, the new data-based eligibility rules, verification and renewal procedures and states' access to the federally-managed data services hub ("the hub") will collectively help defray states' ongoing costs and result in greater efficiency in the long term. For example, states will be able to electronically verify eligibility factors through the hub, where previously they had to verify through multiple federal venues. This is expected to lower the per-person administrative costs of enrollment and renewal for both newly and currently eligible individuals. As stated in previous guidance, no charge will be imposed on states for use of the hub, nor for the required data accessed there. In addition, it is anticipated that many individuals- both those who are eligible under current state eligibility rules as well as those who are eligible under the adult expansion- will apply for coverage via the Exchange. Our rules provide states the option to have the Exchange determine eligibility for Medicaid or to assess eligibility for Medicaid, in both cases using the state's eligibility rules and subject to certain standards. No charge will be imposed on states for the Medicaid determinations or assessments conducted by the Exchanges.

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FAQ ID:94586

CMS has released 90/10 funding for states to improve their eligibility systems for Medicaid. Will that funding continue?

Yes. Both the "90/10" funding for Medicaid eligibility (E&E) system design and development, and the enhanced 75 percent matching rate for maintenance and operations of such systems, will be available indefinitely as long as the systems meet applicable program requirements.

In previous guidance (PDF, 104.38 KB), we have assured states that the 90/10 and 75/25 percent funding for eligibility systems will be available without regard to whether a state decides to expand its program to cover newly eligible low-income adults. We reiterate that system modernization will be supported and the enhanced matching funds will be available regardless of a state's decision on expansion. Additionally, we will continue exploring opportunities to provide states additional support for the administrative costs of eligibility changes.

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FAQ ID:94591

Will low-income residents in states that do not expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the FPL be eligible for cost sharing subsidies and tax credits to purchase coverage through an Exchange?

Yes, in part. Individuals with incomes above 100 percent of the federal poverty level who are not eligible for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or other minimum essential coverage will be eligible for premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions, assuming they also meet other requirements to purchase coverage in the Exchanges.

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FAQ ID:94596

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

What specific plans and timeline do you have for enacting the reforms and flexibility options for Medicaid that you spoke of in 2009? When can states give further input on the needed reforms?

CMS continues to work closely with states to provide options and tools that make it easier for states to make changes in their Medicaid programs to improve care and lower costs. In the last six months, we have released guidance giving states flexibility in structuring payments to better incentivize higher-quality and lower-cost care, provided enhanced matching funds for health home care coordination services for those with chronic illnesses, designed new templates to make it easier to submit section 1115 demonstrations and to make it easier for a state to adopt selective contracting in the program, and developed a detailed tool to help support states interested in extending managed care arrangements to long term services and supports. We have also established six learning collaboratives with states to consider together improvements in data analytics, value-based purchasing and other topics of key concern to states and stakeholders, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has released several new initiatives to test new models of care relating to Medicaid populations. Information about these and many other initiatives are available on Medicaid.gov. We welcome continued input and ideas from states and others. States can implement delivery system and payment reforms in their programs whether or not they adopt the low-income adult expansion. With respect to the expansion group in particular, states have considerable flexibility regarding coverage for these individuals. For example, states can choose a benefit package benchmarked to a commercial package or design an equivalent package. States also have significant cost-sharing flexibility for individuals above 100% of the federal poverty level, and we intend to propose other cost-sharing changes that will modernize and update our rules.

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FAQ ID:94606

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