Mich., R.I. Look For Cuts In Medicaid Costs; Mass. Governor Suggests Taxes, Fees To Cover Rising Costs

The Holland (Mich.) Sentinel reports on possible Medicaid cuts in Michigan: "After an 8 percent reduction in Medicaid reimbursement for 2010, state health organizations say additional cuts for 2011 could be overwhelming. ... To help resolve the state deficit, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, has said he wants to reduce Medicaid spending by anywhere from $160 million to $500 million by dropping either optional services or the number of people eligible. Bishop hasn't offered details on where he would make reductions. The state's optional Medicaid coverage pays for some of the costs of residents in nursing homes and prescription drugs" (Opsommer, 2/1).

The Providence Journal reports on conditions in Rhode Island: "The state's Medicaid rolls grew by more than 1,000 people a month during the second half of 2009, shooting upward as more Rhode Islanders turned to the state for help after losing their jobs and their health insurance. The increases have forced state officials to raise their cost estimates by $17 million" — an amount Gov. Donald Carcieri has suggested will be addressed through midyear budget adjustments and other savings. Medicaid enrollment "started ticking up in February, mirroring a nationwide trend, and the increases gained momentum in July, growing at a pace of about 1,228 a month through the end of the year" (Edgar, 2/1).

Arizona Daily Star reports on cuts to hospice: "State legislators, in an attempt to balance the budget, have cut care options for some terminally ill Arizonans, and hospices may have to repay the state for services already provided. ... A footnote in the Legislature's 2007 General Appropriation Act allowed the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to match federal funds for hospice services needed by acute-care patients. It was a one-year appropriation that was renewed in 2008, but not for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2009. Even though legislators approved the budget in July, AHCCCS continued authorizing hospice payments for another six months. Last month, AHCCCS sent a letter to providers telling them that the funding had been eliminated, and it suggested they would have to repay the state" (Matas, 2/1).

The (Springfield, Mass.) Republic: "Cigar smokers, car owners, people with a sweet tooth and people in poverty could all soon be paying higher taxes or fees if Gov. Deval L. Patrick gets his way. Seeking money for such services as health care, police training and recycling, the governor is proposing to raise $100 million from new taxes and fees in the $28.2 billion state budget proposal he filed for the fiscal year that starts July 1. ... Patrick is even asking some of the state's poorest residents to pay more for services. He wants legislators to approve a 50 percent increase on co-pays for generic prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients, exempting certain chronic conditions" (Ring, 1/31).

The North Carolina Triangle Business Journal: "The state's already record high number of people without health insurance is expected to surge when subsidies for the federal government's COBRA coverage expire, putting another strain on the state's already taxed health-care system. ... Although no expiration date has been set for the subsidies, they will not last forever" (Gallagher, 1/29).

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