Medicaid News: Texas Dental Costs; Ill. Providers Hesitant On Managed Care

Across the states, Medicaid spending and costs are being examined.

WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth): Feds Investigate Texas Dental Medicaid Program 
For the past six months, News 8 investigations have revealed hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable Medicaid spending on braces for children in Texas. Now federal investigators are auditing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which controls those funds. Taking the lead in the audit is the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Harris, 8/25).  

CBS/AP: Feds Audit Texas' Medicaid Spending For Braces
Texas spent $184 million on orthodontic treatment for children under Medicaid last year — nine times more than California spent during the same time period ... The state attributes at least some of the difference between what Texas and other states are spending to a 2007 court ruling that found Texas children needed improved access to health care under Medicaid (8/26).

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Medicaid's Managed Care Effort Stumbles
It can take years for people with cerebral palsy, autism, schizophrenia or Down syndrome to find trusted physicians to oversee their health. Now, families and advocates say, those medical relationships are being threatened as Illinois rolls out a new program of HMO-style care for people with serious disabilities. Many doctors and hospitals are refusing to join the new Medicaid program, which the state hopes will better coordinate care and lower costs for some of its neediest recipients. The providers' rationale: They dislike the bureaucratic hassles and cost-cutting measures associated with managed care (Graham, 8/26).

Kaiser Health News: Insurers See Growing Risks As Well As Revenues In Medicaid Managed Care
The federal health law calls for a huge expansion of the Medicaid program in 2014 -- a potential bonanza for insurers if the law survives court challenges and opposition by Republican contenders for the White House. The expansion will add 16 million enrollees, mostly in private plans, bringing the total nationwide to about 65 million and raising the stakes for controlling costs. As budgetary pressure rises, states are increasingly passing it on to private plans (Weaver, 8/26).

The Associated Press/Houston Chronicle: Neb. Struggling With Rural Mental Health Services
Nebraska is still struggling to provide rural, community-based mental health and substance abuse services to children who need it, a top state health official said Friday. Nebraska Medicaid Director Vivianne Chaumont told a joint legislative panel that the state will have to rely more on such providers as it tries to come into compliance with federal rules for mental health and substance abuse treatment. At stake are millions in federal matching dollars given to Nebraska to administer the services (Schulte, 8/26).

Georgia Health News: Legislators Air Differences On Health Care
Bipartisan agreement on health care reform? Hardly. But a panel of five state legislators – three Republicans and two Democrats – did agree on the need to control health care costs and to make fixes in the state's Medicaid program, at a forum Friday (Miller, 8/26). 

Kansas Health Institute News: SRS Releases Spending Cut List
The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services on Friday released an outline of its plan for cutting more than $43 million from its budget. Almost half the cuts – $19.3 million – are tied to not-yet-defined reforms to the state's Medicaid program (Ranney, 8/26). 

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