Nomenclature for Change

Those of you who pore over the Federal Register may have noted the nomenclature changes of 77 FR 29002-01 on May 16, 2012, removing the term Medicaid "Recipient" from current CMS regulations and substituting Medicaid  "Beneficiary."   It took me a little longer to catch on to it but I have been thinking about it ever since because this change means the term "Beneficiary" now refers to all individuals who are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid services.

What's up with that?

The term "Medicaid Recipient" was found to be unflattering, apparently, and the move was to standardize and de-stigmatize the nomenclature.  The Affordable Care Act, as written, actually had a number of  provisions designed to simplify Medicaid as well as to standardize and federalize it. Most of those provisions survived the ACA's trip to the Supreme Court on the now optional Medicaid expansion.

 This means a state near you, whether or not it has chosen to operate its own health insurance  exchange,  is busy completing its work on computerizing and simplifying Medicaid enrollment for its non-expansion Medicaid Beneficiary population. The dirty secret of Medicaid take up has always been its wide variability.  We may be about to see the narrowing of that spread.

Time will tell how much simplifying and de-stigmatizing Medicaid will matter to take up rates.  We have only a very little data on the previously eligible now coming forward  to claim Medicaid Beneficiary status, but it will be interesting  to watch. It is already interesting to watch a non-Medicaid expansion state like South Carolina predict a sixteen percent jump in Medicaid enrollment.

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