States Struggle With Budget Cuts And Medicaid Funding Issues

News outlets report on a variety of health issues at the state level especially budget cuts and Medicaid funding issues.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports on budget cuts to the State Department of Health: "About $40,000 is being cut from Gregory House Programs, Hawaii's only statewide HIV/AIDS housing provider (which is 10 percent of the budget); $110,000 from two Life Foundation prevention contracts; and $157,000 for the Community Health Outreach Work Project to Prevent AIDS. The position of HIV/STD prevention coordinator, held 19 years by Nancy Kern, also is being eliminated and she is moving to another Health Department branch" (Altonn, 12/6).

Belleville News Democrat/The Associated Press reports on children's health insurance in Missouri: "It's known as 'Express Lane Eligibility' — an effort to put children on the fast track for government-run health care coverage. But in Missouri, the Express Lane has become the slow lane. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Missouri Department of Social Services recommended the adoption this spring of a half-dozen measures intended to enroll more children in government health care programs for low- and middle-income families. With winter now approaching, none of those recommendations has been implemented" (Lieb, 12/6).

The Baltimore Business Journal reports on efforts in Maryland to shuffle health care dollars to fund Medicaid and cover the uninsured: "State health officials have tapped a $15 million surplus in Maryland's senior prescription drug program to help fund swelling Medicaid enrollment. The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the fund transfer Nov. 18, along with $362 million in overall state budget cuts. The move is the latest attempt by state health officials to preserve funding for Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program for the poor, and chip away at Maryland's growing ranks of the uninsured" (Dash, 12/4).

The Kansas City Star reports on Medicaid cuts: "The (Kansas Health Policy) Authority's executive board approved $1.13 million in cuts Friday as it copes with budget reductions ordered by Gov. Mark Parkinson in late November. ... These cuts are in addition to a 10 percent cut to all Medicaid provider payments already announced. That is expected to save $22 million. 'This is really a triple hit: We're cutting the reimbursement rates we pay to our providers; we're cutting the administrative support that helps providers get what little they are supposed to be paid; and we're cutting the resources needed to help people get enrolled in the programs in the first place,' said KHPA board chairman Joe Tilghman" (Koranda,12/5).

The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reports on budget cuts in Mississippi: "Gov. Haley Barbour is whittling another $54.3 million from the state budget as revenues continue to fall, but Mississippi's remaining $160 million shortfall likely will be addressed in January after the legislative session begins. ... The cuts Thursday include a 5 percent reduction to most agencies and programs, including Medicaid, which will take the hit in February. Barbour said he allowed the delay in order to give physicians and other providers time to adjust to the decrease in state payments" (Crisp, 12/4).

The (West Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier/Gannett Washington Bureau: "Indiana can't afford a proposed expansion of Medicaid, even if the federal government picks up most of the cost, Gov. Mitch Daniels said today. The expansion is included in health care overhaul legislation moving through Congress. ... Not every governor sees the bill the same way. A spokesman for Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat whose state is in worse financial shape than Indiana, has said the Medicaid expansion wouldn't overburden the state's budget, and doing nothing would be worse. Expanding Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, is a primary way lawmakers aim to shrink the number of uninsured Americans" (Groppe, 12/4).

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