What We're Reading: Arizona Medicaid Requirements; CHIP Will Wait for 2018; Opioid Overdoses

Arizona submitted a waiver to impose work requirements and a lifetime limit for able-bodied people on the Medicaid program; Congress will tackle long-term funding for the Children's Health Insurance Plan in 2018; the opioid epidemic escalated in 2016.

Arizona Seeks Medicaid Work Requirements

Arizona has submitted a waiver to the Trump administration asking to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults in the state Medicaid program. According to The Hill, there are some exemptions, but most beneficiaries will have to be working, in school, or attending employment support and development programs. In addition to the work requirement, Arizona is looking to impose a 5-year lifetime limit on receiving Medicaid benefits for able-bodied individuals. A similar waiver was rejected previously by the Obama administration. However, CMS Administrator Seema Verma has signaled the agency now is open to work requirements in Medicaid.

Congress Will Tackle CHIP Funding in 2018

A joint statement from Republican Senators Lamar Alexander, Tennessee, and Susan Collins, Maine, made it clear that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will not happen before the end of the year. They said that CHIP reauthorization funding, which would fund the program for 5 years, will not be part of the year-end spending bill. Instead, Congress will fully address CHIP funding in 2018. Modern Healthcare also reported that Congress will only fund CHIP through the first 2 quarters of next year as part of the package to fund the government through January 19, 2018. The short-term plan is to shift funding from states that have a surplus to states running out of money.

Opioid Epidemic Escalated in 2016

In 2016, the number of opioid overdose deaths increased 28% over the previous year. The rise in deaths was driven by deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opiates, The Washington Post reported. Deaths from painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, were also up 14%. While the CDC reported that more than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses, it’s thought that the official figures could underestimate the true number of deaths by at least 20%. Men are twice as likely to die of a drug overdose as women, and West Virginia has the highest opioid overdose mortality rate.