CMS will not require states to pay back federal funds they received to build the IT infrastructure for the federal health reform law's Medicaid expansion or state-run health insurance exchanges, even if they do not carry out those initiatives, Modern Healthcare reports (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 7/13).
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld the major elements of the health reform law.
However, the justices struck down a provision that would have allowed the federal government to withhold existing Medicaid funding if states failed to comply with the law's Medicaid expansion (iHealthBeat, 6/28).
Letters from Tavenner
On Friday, acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) -- chair of the Republican Governors Association -- to answer questions that state leaders have asked about the implications of the Supreme Court ruling. Tavenner also sent copies of the letter to the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association (Modern Healthcare, 7/13).
In the letter, Tavenner wrote, "A state can receive extra funding for Medicaid IT costs and exchange implementation costs even if it has not yet decided whether to expand Medicaid eligibility or run its own exchange. And, if a state ultimately decides not to do so, it will not have to pay those resources back" (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/16).
Tavenner added, "We hope that states will not turn down the resources and flexibility offered in the Affordable Care Act, and will put aside old political battles to move forward with implementation" (Modern Healthcare, 7/13).
States Expected To Award Health IT Contracts
In related news, many states are expected to award contracts for health IT projects associated with implementing the federal health reform law, the Washington Post reports.
States likely will be soliciting for services such as:
- Creating a Web portal for state health insurance exchanges;
- Consulting on health insurance exchanges;
- Enhancing or replacing health program eligibility systems; and
- Implementing IT systems for health insurance exchanges (White/Jones, Washington Post, 7/15).