States Struggle To Rein In Medical Costs

The Fiscal Times: States Balance Budgets with Drastic Service Cuts
About half of all states are cutting public health care, an area that is already stretched thin by previous cuts in 31 states and a spike in Medicaid enrollment induced by high unemployment. Services for mental health, abused children, the elderly and the underinsured are the primary targets (Hube, 5/27).

Modern Healthcare: Health Care Cuts Loom In Texas; Mich. Keeps Medicaid Rates Steady
Funding for Texas health and human services programs would be cut by 17.2 percent, or $11.3 billion, over the next two fiscal years under an agreement worked out by lawmakers from both houses of the state Legislature, according to published reports. In Michigan, however, a budget deal covering fiscal 2012 maintains Medicaid rates, according to health care industry lobbying groups (Gallero, 5/26).

The Times-Picayune: House Approves $25 Billion Budget With New Health Care Cuts
The Louisiana House approved a $25 billion budget blueprint late Thursday ... lawmakers agreed unanimously, and with no debate, to cut next year's health-care budget by $81 million. While the cuts would be directed at a new managed-care program for Medicaid recipients, members of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration said it would lead to lower payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers that treat the poor and elderly. By approving the cut, the House reversed a position it took just a day earlier, when members twice rejected a similar proposal (Moller, 5/26).

Health News Florida: State Can't Spend $35.7M Grant
In March, Gov. Rick Scott’s staff said he would accept a $35.7-million federal health grant called the "Money Follows the Person." … It was welcome news to patient advocates, because the money would provide in-home and community services to keep mentally and physically disabled people from being forced into nursing homes. That was March; this is May. As it turned out, the 2011-12 budget passed by the Florida Legislature and just signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott failed to provide budget authority to spend the money (Gentry, 5/26).

Related, earlier KHN story: Despite Federal Help, States Struggle To Move People Out Of Nursing Homes (Galewitz, 4/22/10).

The New York Times: Under An Arizona Plan, Smokers And Obese Would Pay Fee For Medicaid
Arizona, like many others states, says it is no longer able to adequately finance its Medicaid program. As part of a plan to cut costs, the state has proposed imposing a $50 fee on childless adults on Medicaid who are either obese or who smoke. In Arizona, almost half of all Medicaid recipients smoke; while the number of obese people is unclear, about one-in-four Arizonans is overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Williams, 5/26).

The Boston Globe: Senate Limits Bargaining Rights To Save On Health Costs
The Massachusetts Senate voted last night to curb the collective bargaining rights of police officers, teachers and other municipal employees, making it likely the overwhelmingly Democratic state will limit union power in an effort to ease budget woes. … While the measures backed by the House, Senate, and governor vary, all three would allow mayors and other local officials to move local workers into the state's health insurance plan or to design their own plans that similarly trim costs paid by municipal employers (Levenson, 5/27).

Chicago Sun Times: Cook County Health Clinics Plan 'Shutdown Day' Friday
Cook County Health and Hospitals System clinics will be closed today for a county "shutdown day" — the second of five this year aimed at cutting costs. The only exception will be the urgent-care walk-in clinic at Fantus Health Center. … Today's closings will affect all 16 county clinics; the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center; facilities for the Cook County Department of Public Health, and all hospital-based specialty clinics. The emergency rooms at Stroger, Provident and Oak Forest hospitals are open (Thomas, 5/27).

The Connecticut Mirror: After Two-Year Drought, Funds Restored For Retired Teacher Health Plan
After putting it off for two years, the General Assembly has agreed to fully fund the state's share of a health plan that covers 33,000 retired teachers and their spouses, easing fears that the plan would run out of money. The new state budget for the next two years includes $51.5 million to cover the state's share of subsidized Medicare supplement coverage (Rabe and Phaneuf, 5/26). 

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