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HFS still working with federal CMS on Medicaid waivers

HFS still working with federal CMS on Medicaid waivers

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to further increase Medicaid access during the new coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly Cunningham, the state’s acting Medicaid director, said during a virtual meeting late last week that the department continues to work with the federal government on the state’s emergency 1135 waiver request.

While it was approved in March, Cunningham said there are still portions that have not yet gone into effect. She did not specify what those requests were.

“While we got a waiver and we got it approved, it’s not completely approved and, in some cases, things were approved that we didn’t ask for all the way,” she said. “Rest assured, we’re still negotiating with federal CMS to work through some of those details.”

Cunningham said they are still working with CMS for the approval of an 1115 waiver, which includes requests to use Medicaid to pay for out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment for the insured, as well as housing for the homeless during a quarantine period, services for inmates and home-delivered meals.

“We’re still very hopeful that we can proceed with a lot of what we requested in the 1115 waiver,” she said.

The state has already told providers they should start covering testing and treatment for COVID-19 for the uninsured as well as Medicaid members.

The past several months have been a struggle for the state agency, said Director Theresa Eagleson. Like many agencies, she said they did not “have a playbook” for a pandemic.

Early on, Eagleson said that officials determined that expanded telehealth would be crucial in the fight against the virus. Other Medicaid changes include easing regulations for out-of-state providers, suspending prior authorization requirements and delaying determinations.


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