States Wrestle With Budget, Health Spending Issues

Today's news about state budget deliberations includes reports from Florida, Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland.

Health News Florida: $1B In Cuts In Senate HHS Budget
When Sen. Joe Negron released a proposal Monday to cut at least $1 billion from health- and human-services programs, it was a first step in what likely will be a contentious budget process. The proposal immediately drew criticism for deep cuts to hospital funding, mental-health services and the Medically Needy program. And Tuesday, Negron's House counterpart will release a budget proposal that will differ on key issues. ... House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, would not disclose details of his budget proposal in advance of releasing it Tuesday (Saunders, 3/22).

The Connecticut Mirror: In Hartford, Malloy Pressed To Tax The Wealthy And Expand Health Care
Those who spoke out on the state budget Monday in one of Connecticut's poorest cities ... pressed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to seek more in taxes from the state's wealthiest citizens and corporations. The crowd ... also included a half-dozen citizens who pushed for universal health care through the SustiNet model — a common theme at all eight regional budget hearings to date. ... Much of Monday's hearing also centered on the SustiNet health care model, a proposed state-backed health care plan. Malloy has said he wants to hold off implementation of the plan while the state's budget problems are being resolved (Phaneuf, 3/21).

Minnesota Public Radio: Dems Question GOP Numbers On Human Services Cuts
Republicans in the House are proposing massive cuts to health and human services programs, to help erase the state's projected $5 billion budget deficit. ... The bill calls for removing 7,200 people from the MinnesotaCare health insurance program. It also would save $300 million by cutting payments to HMOs and doctors that provide the least efficient care. It would save another $300 million by asking the federal government to change how the state delivers Medicaid services to the poor, the elderly and the disabled. Democrats say the math doesn't add up (Scheck, 3/21).

The New York Times: A Panel Decides Washington State's Health Care Costs
The health care board was in session, and Deryk Lamb was pleading for them to continue paying for the spinal injections he receives to dull the pain from a workplace injury. ... Mr. Lamb was testifying on Friday before Washington State's Health Technology Assessment committee. The committee has authority under state law to determine which medical devices and procedures Washington will cover for state employees, Medicaid patients and injured workers, about 750,000 people in all (Pollack, 3/21).

The Washington Post: Leggett, Montgomery County Unions Spar Over Pension Costs
Montgomery County's pension and retiree health accounts are facing a long-term shortfall of more than $4.8 billion, and officials repeatedly have pulled back from difficult decisions needed to close the gap (Laris, 3/21).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.