Minnesota County Says State Plan To Cover Costs Of Health Care For The Needy Is Unfair

The (Minneapolis-St.Paul) Star Tribune: In Minnesota, Hennepin County officials are saying a plan to charge counties extra to "cover health care for their neediest residents would have an unfair impact on the state's largest county and biggest public hospital."  The $400 million General Assistance Medical Care program to cover the poorest in the state is slated to end March 1 as part of efforts to balance the budget. Legislators have proposed funding the program through surcharges on hospitals and health groups to draw down federal dollars and would levy a 10 percent match by counties to share the program's cost (Duchschere, 1/15).

The Detroit News: Medicare fraud is on the rise. In the last eight months, 84 have been indicted and charged with stealing $85 million from the system. "Those numbers include two physicians and 11 other people arrested in a Thursday morning sweep, accused of billing Medicare for $14.5 million in services that were never provided. … Investigators admit health care fraud is an easy crime to commit and highly profitable. They say the mission of the Motor City Health Care Fraud Strike Force — set up about eight months ago — is to make sure those who bilk the system can't to do it for long" (Egan, 1/15).

Missoula (Mont.) Missoulian: Future funding for Montana's Children's Health Insurance Program is likely to come to a battle if health reform passes. "Healthy Montana Kids, overwhelmingly approved by Montana voters in 2008 and launched last October, expands the Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, two government health insurance programs. When fully implemented, it's supposed to cover an additional 29,000 children in Montana. The health reform bill passed by the U.S. House late last year eliminates CHIP at the end of 2013. It says families with kids covered by CHIP then must shop for private health coverage on a new 'health insurance exchange,' which is an Internet clearinghouse for private insurance policies." The Senate preserves funding for CHIP through 2015 (Dennison, 1/14).

The Tulsa World reports that Oklahoma health providers will face lower Medicaid payments after the Oklahoma Health Care Authority approved Thursday a 3.25 reduction in reimbursement rates to providers. "The reduction will take effect April 1 and was made in response to declining state revenue. It is expected to save the state's Medicaid agency $5 million but will result in the loss of $15 million in federal matching dollars." The state has about 27,000 Medicaid providers. For nursing homes, the new rate will drop the reimbursement by $4.51 per day per patient, one nursing home provider says (Hoberock, 1/15).

The Associated Press/5News: "Officials say the cuts were required by the agency's reduced budget allocation for December and January. State agency budgets were reduced 10 percent due to a revenue shortfall" (1/14).

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