CMS Is Seeking Guidance On Medicaid Coverage For Children Provided Across State Lines

Author:Mr Thomas Barker
Profession:Foley Hoag LLP

The Medicaid program generally has more generous coverage rules for children than for adults. For example, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Testing (EPSDT) provisions of the Medicaid statute, if a child's medical condition is identified via an EPSDT screening, the state's Medicaid plan must cover treatment for that condition, even if the necessary treatment consists of an optional benefit under the state Medicaid plan.

But what happens if the state where the child lives does not have a health care provider that is capable of treating the child's medical condition? Suppose the child has an extremely rare medical disease, there are only ten centers of excellence in the entire United States that have the ability and expertise to treat the condition, and not one of those ten centers are located in a state where the child lives. The EPSDT benefit would be an empty promise if a child on Medicaid could not access treatment for a medical condition identified in an EPSDT screening solely by virtue of where they live.

On January 21, CMS published a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register that seeks to address this concern. As part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress directed CMS to issue guidance on this issue. In part, it's a tough problem to solve: let's say that a child living in a rural community in Montana needs treatment for a medical condition and the closest treatment center is in Denver, or Salt Lake City. Should the provider in Denver or Salt Lake City be forced to enroll in Montana's Medicaid program, even though that provider might only see two or three patients a year from Montana? What if Montana's Medicaid program doesn't have a mechanism to pay for the required medical treatment? What if the Medicaid program where the child lives has a different match rate than the state where the treatment is provided? What if the child is enrolled in a Medicaid managed care plan, and the most logical center of excellence to treat the child's medical condition is not an enrolled provider in the child's Medicaid managed care plan?

CMS, through its RFI, seeks comments on all of these questions, and more. In all, CMS has asked for information on 11 different topics, including:

Best practices regarding care coordination for out-of-state providers for care that is provided in both the emergency and non-emergency setting; Financial, regulatory and...

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