Mississippi senators pass paid leave for government employees, depart Capitol

March 18, 2020, The Clarion Ledger, Luke Ramseth - Mississippi lawmakers began at least a two-week hiatus Wednesday in the face of the growing COVID-19 outbreak, hoping to avoid the spread of the virus among dozens of legislators and staff who often work in close quarters. The Senate quickly passed two coronavirus measures Wednesday morning before departing. House Bill 1647 allows local governments and school districts to grant their employees paid leave in the coming weeks. House Resolution 65 allows legislators to suspend the session for at least two weeks, and possibly longer. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn will decide when to return.

Trump signs second major COVID-19 relief package

March 18, 2020, Modern Healthcare, Rachel Cohrs - The federal government’s Medicaid matching funds will increase across the board by 6.2%. Hospital groups including the Greater New York Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and America’s Essential Hospitals supported the payment bump. Similar policies were enacted in two previous bailout packages in the 2000s. Padding states’ Medicaid budget could help head off provider reimbursement cuts in a time when providers will be squeezed by having to delay high-margin procedures and an increase in uncompensated care. States receiving the funds will not be able to change eligibility requirements or raise premiums.

No need to hoard: There’s plenty of food in the system

March 18, 2020, Politico, Ryan McCrimmion and Catherine Boudreau - Don’t be fooled by the barren grocery store shelves: There’s plenty more food on the way. Meat, dairy and produce groups as well as federal regulators say the U.S. has an ample amount of products in cold storage to handle the unexpected demand for food and household products from Americans. The latest Agriculture Department data shows record-high stocks of frozen poultry, cheeses like American and Swiss and red raspberries, while frozen pork supplies are up 11 percent from last year.

Healthy Michigan work requirements struck down by federal court

March 6, 2020, Washington Examiner, The Center Square, Scott McClallen -  A federal judge has struck down work requirements for Healthy Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program. Those rules required able-bodied adults ages 19-62 to report an average of 80 hours per month working or in school to keep health care benefits through the state. U.S District Judge James Boasberg in Washington issued the ruling, which follow past court decisions in Arkansas. A U.S. Appeals Court struck down work requirements in Arkansas on February 14, 2020, ruling that “the principal objective of Medicaid is providing health care coverage,” Senior Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle wrote.

Oklahoma governor seeks Medicaid expansion, plans block grant transition

March 6, 2020, Modern Healthcare, Harris Meyer -  The administration of Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has asked the CMS for approval to expand Medicaid to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act as soon as July 1.nStitt told the Oklahoman newspaper Thursday that after submitting the state plan amendment, the state will follow up with the Trump administration to seek waivers to allow the state to impose premiums and work requirements on expansion enrollees under his proposed SoonerCare 2.0 plan. In addition, he said the state will seek CMS approval for waivers to convert the state’s Medicaid program into a capped federal funding model under the Trump administration’s newly announced Healthy Adult Opportunity program. He wants to shift beneficiaries into private Medicaid managed care plans.

Judge blocks Michigan’s Medicaid work requirement

March 4, 2020, Modern Healthcare, Harris Meyer -  A federal judge on Wednesday blocked Michigan’s Medicaid work requirement, which took effect in January and could have resulted in thousands of low-income adults losing coverage as early as June. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington vacated HHS’ December 2018 approval of Michigan’s “community engagement” waiver that required Medicaid expansion enrollees to report 80 hours a month of work or other “community engagement” activities to retain their coverage. He is still considering the legality of new premiums and copays under the waiver.