U.S. House unanimously passes bipartisan bill to strengthen Medicaid

March 29, 2019

On March 25, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed HR 1839 “Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act.” The bill—sponsored by California physician Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Palm Springs/Cochella Valley)—would extend several expiring Medicaid programs, create a new Medicaid option for states to establish coordinated care health homes for children with complex medical conditions with an enhanced federal match, and increase penalties on drug manufacturers that misclassify outpatient drugs for rebate purposes. Among the expiring programs the bill would extend is the “spousal impoverishment” program that protects families where one spouse requires expensive home or community-based care.

The California Medical Association (CMA) and organized medicine supported the bill. It now moves to the Senate where it also enjoys bipartisan support. 

Brief summary:

  • Establishes a coordinated care “health home” program for chronically ill children through an optional state plan amendment with additional federal matching funds. It helps physicians coordinate a child’s medical care across all health care settings. 
  • Establishes large civil monetary penalties on drug manufacturers for the misclassification of outpatient drugs for the Medicaid rebate program. 
  • Extends the existing Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Program through September 2019.
  • Extends the existing Community Mental Health Demonstration Program through June 2019.
  • Extends the “Money Follows the Person” program that provides funding to seniors and disabled individuals who are able to move from assisted living back into their communities.
  • Extends the third-party liability period for child support services.
  • Denies federal Medicaid funding for certain expenditures related to vacuum erection systems and penile prosthetic implants that are not medically necessary.

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