Louisiana's Medicaid Rate Cuts Kick in Aug. 1; Other States Seek Health Program Assistance, Make Tough Choices To Balance Budgets

Bloomberg BusinessWeek /The Associated Press: "The rates paid to many of the private health providers in Louisiana's Medicaid program will fall Sunday to trim spending by $168 million in the program that provides care to the poor, elderly and disabled. The latest cuts to private hospitals, home- and community-based care providers, doctors and specialty service providers are the final piece of balancing this year's $6.5 billion Medicaid budget. Department of Health and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips said Medicaid funding was cut by $277 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year that began July 1." Some health providers say these reductions--combined with others in the last 18 months--are taking a toll on patients' access to care "by chasing some providers away from treating Medicaid patients, even as more people move onto the Medicaid rolls. More than 1.2 million Louisiana residents are enrolled in the state's Medicaid program, Phillips said" (Deslatte, 7/29).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The State of Missouri has received a 'Gateway to Better Health' Demonstration Project from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The Demonstration will allow the redirection of $25 million in annual Medicaid funding to preserve and expand important community health center services in St. Louis' urban core. These funds will assist in the transition to expanded coverage under the new Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). … The St. Louis Regional Health Commission will coordinate, monitor and report on the Demonstration Project, continuing its work of the last 10 years. Since the region formed the Commission, access to community health center services has dramatically increased by more than 120,000 additional annual visits, and St. Louis has become a national model for innovative ways to improve safety net health care services" (Goodhart, 7/29).

Pittsburgh Business Journal: "Nearly 46,000 Pennsylvanians enrolled in Pennsylvania's adultBasic subsidized health insurance plan could lose their coverage next year if an agreement with the state's Blue Cross and Blue Shield providers is not renewed, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, including Pittsburgh-based Highmark Inc., agreed in 2005 to help fund adultBasic, which provides basic health care to uninsured adults earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level. ... That agreement expires in December. According to the report, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Pennsylvania have surpluses that are more than $1 billion larger now than when that agreement was signed five years ago. … The organizations also want the Blue plans to agree to make adultBasic contributions through the agreement until 2014, when health insurance exchanges — part of the national health-care reform legislation approved earlier this year — will begin operation in Pennsylvania" (George, 7/29).

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Fewer Texans with drug and alcohol addictions will be getting publicly financed help because of a $7 million decrease in funding to treatment centers, providers say. In Tarrant County, Mental Health Mental Retardation may have to reduce admissions into its residential treatment program and end services it offers at the Tarrant County Jail, said Stevie Hansen, MHMR chief of addiction services. The agency will also likely run out of money for outpatient treatment services by May or June, she said. … The reduction in funding contracts, which were announced last week, is due to a rollback in reimbursements. In 2008, the state boosted the rate it pays agencies for treating patients by 7 percent, the first increase since 2001, said Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. The hike was paid for with federal funds left over from a past year, he said. That money has now been spent" (Branch, 7/29).

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