UMass Medical School health policy experts to discuss Affordable Care Act and Medicaid waivers, federal guidance at Connecticut forum

June 23, 2016

UMass Medical School health policy experts will discuss Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid waivers and newly issued federal guidance at an event June 28 sponsored by the Connecticut Health Foundation in collaboration with the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

Robert W. Seifert, MPA, and Rachel Gershon, JD, MPH, of the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine, and Cheryl Fish-Parcham of Families USA will explain how the waivers work and how they can be used. The forum will be from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Seifert, Gershon and Katharine London, MS, also of the Center for Health Law and Economics, co-authored two policy briefs outlining how waivers available under the ACA and Medicaid can be used to make health insurance more affordable and accessible in Connecticut. The analysis was commissioned and released last year by the Connecticut Health Foundation and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

Connecticut’s uninsured rate was 4 percent of the population in 2014, but cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, HUSKY, put some residents at risk of not being covered. Other residents face affordability issues as insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs continue to increase.

One of the policy briefs, “Using Waivers to Improve Health Care Affordability and Access to Coverage in Connecticut,” describes how state government can use waivers as a policy tool to make health insurance more affordable and easier to access. States can use waivers to make choices that will increase health insurance affordability and access, including simplifying the health care system or offering higher subsidies for health insurance than is currently available.

How Waivers Work: ACA Section 1332 and Medicaid Section 1115” describes the two waivers and how they work under the law. The ACA Section 1332 waiver allows states to opt out of some ACA requirements, while the Medicaid Section 1115 waiver permits states to alter some federal obligations for Medicaid programs.

The Connecticut Health Foundation, established in 1999, is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. The foundation supports grant-making, public policy research, technical assistance and convening to improve the health of Connecticut residents. It has awarded grants totaling $57 million in 45 cities and towns statewide since its inception.

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut is an independent, nonprofit philanthropy that supports research-based policy, advocacy and public education that advances quality, affordable health care for all Connecticut residents.

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