UMass Medical School policy briefs explain how Connecticut can use waivers to improve health insurance access and affordability

December 09, 2015

Waivers available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid can be used to improve health insurance affordability and access in Connecticut, according to briefs authored by health policy experts at UMass Medical School and released jointly by the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) and Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

The two policy briefs, which explain how these federal waivers work and how to use them, were written by Robert W. Seifert, MPA; Rachel Gershon, JD, MPH; and Katharine London, MS; of the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. CT Health and Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut commissioned the analysis.

Connecticut’s uninsured rate was 4 percent of the population in 2014, but that was before recent cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, HUSKY. Residents who are insured are facing affordability issues as insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs continue to rise.

Using Waivers to Improve Health Care Affordability and Access to Coverage in Connecticut” details how state government can use waivers as a policy tool to make health insurance more affordable and easier to access for Connecticut residents. States like Connecticut can use waivers to make specific choices that will increase health insurance affordability and access, including expanding Medicaid coverage and income limits and purchasing private insurance with Medicaid funds.

How Waivers Work: ACA Section 1332 and Medicaid Section 1115” describe the two different waivers that are available and how each operates under the law. The ACA Section 1332 waiver allows states to opt out of several ACA requirements and the Medicaid Section 1115 waiver gives states the ability to alter some of the federal obligations for Medicaid programs.

CT Health is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grantmaking, public policy research, technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission – to improve the health of the people of Connecticut. Over the past 16 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling $57 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state.

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut is an independent, non-profit philanthropy that supports research-based policy, advocacy and public education that advances the achievement of quality, affordable health care for everyone in the state.


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