Missouri Lawmaker Proposes Changes To Control Prison Health Care Costs

States struggle with funding health care for inmates, Medicaid cuts and funding health insurance for low-income residents in Minnestoa.

The Columbia Missourian reports: "At a state budget hearing, Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, explored an unorthodox method to alleviate the corrections department's budget pressures. Kelly's proposal would allow elderly inmates to be granted parole and move into a nursing facility of the state's choice. Once prisoners are no longer incarcerated, they can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare and reduce health costs for the corrections department. Adult Prison Director Tom Clements said the state has 202 male and 7 female inmates over the age of 70. Clements said he didn't know how much money Kelly's idea would save the department, nor did he give a definitive response to Kelly's suggested course of action" (Krebs, 2/24).

Virginia Business Magazine reports: "Budget cuts proposed by Virginia legislators could prompt many physicians to restrict the number of Medicaid patients they see. A survey released [Tuesday] by the Medical Society of Virginia found that a Medicaid budget cut of up to 5 percent would cause 41.5 percent of the respondents to stop taking new patients while another 22.3 percent would stop participating in Medicaid entirely. The budget committees from Virginia Senate and House of Delegates released budget proposals on Sunday. The House proposal would cut Medicaid reimbursements to physicians by 5 percent while the Senate plan would reduce payments by 4 percent. Medical Society representatives said doctors currently are reimbursed only 63 to 64 cents for every dollar it costs them to treat Medicaid patients. Virginia's per-capita Medicaid spending ranks 48th in the nation" (2/23).

The Roanoke Times / The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reports: "Virginia doctors warned today that looming cuts in the state's Medicaid budget put access to health care at risk for thousands of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens. If the Medicaid program is cut in the 4 to 5 percent range as proposed by the General Assembly money committees, a recent survey indicates that as many as 75 percent of doctors may decide to limit the number of Medicaid patients they see or stop seeing them altogether, Dr. Daniel Carey, president of the Medical Society of Virginia, said in a news conference" (Sizemore, 2/24).

Minnesota Public Radio reports: "Advocates for the homeless say that the state's poorest residents could have to resort to panhandling to pay their monthly health insurance premiums if the DFL legislators are not successful in blocking two separate proposals by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The debate about state health insurance for low-income residents has grown more complicated after Pawlenty proposed eliminating most welfare payments for single adults. Pawlenty has said the cuts are needed to help fix the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit, and pay for tax cuts he says will create jobs" (Baran, 2/23).

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