Medicaid Enrollments Jump But States Are Trying To Cut Costs

Several states are noting significant increases in Medicaid enrollment, even as they look to find ways to create savings in the programs.

The News & Observer reports: "North Carolina is trying to squeeze savings out of Medicaid, even as more people than anticipated sign up for coverage under the government health-care program for the poor. So far, the cuts primarily mean that doctors, hospitals and providers are being paid less for their services, but state officials and others are warning that cuts to medical services and significant job losses in health care could be looming."

"Cuts ordered by the legislature this year mean that Medicaid, which is funded jointly by federal and state government, will lose $1.5 billion this year. Those cuts have touched nearly all areas of health care. Doctors and hospitals are being paid less to treat Medicaid patients, and the state is spending less on community mental health and personal care services for the elderly. Meanwhile, more people are asking for help. About 8,000 more people than legislators budgeted for were signed up for the government insurance program in August, and September enrollment was 3,000 people higher than anticipated. Unless there's a dramatic economic turnaround in the next year, the budget pressure could increase, said Lanier Cansler, head of the state Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid" (Bonner, 10/14).

The Omaha World-Herald reports: "A top Nebraska Medicaid official hopes to persuade the Mayo Clinic to keep treating Nebraska Medicaid patients beyond year's end. Vivianne Chaumont, the state Medicaid director, said Tuesday that the state is talking with clinic representatives about reversing a decision announced early this month. ... The renowned clinic in Rochester, Minn., notified the state that it plans to stop taking Nebraska Medicaid patients as of Jan. 1. ... Mayo's three clinics — in Rochester, Florida and Arizona — provided more than $500 million worth of services to Medicaid patients last year and lost more than $100 million on those services" (Stoddard, 10/14).

WHYY, a public broadcasting station in southeastern Pennsylvania, reports: "One of Pennsylvania's Medicaid insurance plans will no longer be honored at Chester County Hospital. The move will impact patients who rely on the plan for coverage, and may be a harbinger of changes in hospital-insurer relationships. Keystone Mercy health insurance and Chester County Hospital could not reach agreement about reimbursements for medical services. So patients will either have to switch health plans or find a new doctor. The hospital says Keystone planned to cut payments by 30 percent. Perry Pepper, the hospital's CEO says that was unacceptable" (Grens, 10/14).

The Columbus Dispatch reports: "About 154,000 Ohioans joined the Medicaid rolls in the last year, an 8 percent spike in enrollment and the largest 12-month caseload increase in seven years. Enrollment in the tax-funded health-care program for the poor and disabled has increased for 19 consecutive months, the longest period of sustained growth since the economic downturn of 2001" (Candisky, 10/13).

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