State Budgets Improve But Not Enough To Spare Medicaid

Medicaid news from California, Georgia and New York.

Modern Healthcare: Better State Budget Picture, But Medicaid Still In Jeopardy
State budget shortfalls for the coming year total about $47 billion, the smallest aggregate deficit since the Great Recession, a report says. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found deficits in 29 states for the fiscal year ahead and another 10 states reported revenue for the current year fell $3.2 billion short of budget. ... [A] marked improvement from the $106 billion this year (so far) and $430 million the prior three years (Evans, 2/27).

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown Presses Obama On Medi-Cal, Meets With Labor
Gov. Jerry Brown continued to press President Barack Obama today for authorization to enact further cuts to Medi-Cal to help balance California's budget, even as the administration showed no sign of relenting and complained about the severity of state budget cuts in other areas. ... The Obama administration recently denied Brown's bid to charge Medi-Cal recipients co-payments for prescription drugs, doctor visits and other services. After meeting privately with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Sunday, Brown said there are "some legal issues being raised about our ability to require co-pays" (Siders, 2/27).

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown Advised Not To 'Talk Too Much' About Medi-Cal
"There are possibilities that are being examined that will enable California to more tightly manage its Medi-Cal program, and some of that involves co-payments," the Democratic governor was telling reporters. "But if you talk too much about it, you might hurt your negotiations," [Brown aide Nancy] McFadden said (Siders, 2/27).

Georgia Health News: Senate Panel Oks Welfare Drug Testing
A Senate health committee Monday approved a bill requiring drug testing for Georgia welfare applicants, after a similar provision for Medicaid enrollees was dropped from the legislation. ... Federal approval would have been necessary to put [the Medicaid rule] into effect, and last week a state official testified that a federal agency had already denied permission for other states to require drug-testing of Medicaid enrollees (Miller, 2/27). 

California Healthline: New California Law Seeks To Expand Telehealth Services for Medicaid Beneficiaries
The law allows for a broader range of telehealth services, expands the definition of telehealth providers to include all licensed health care professionals, expands telehealth care settings and allows state hospitals to establish medical credentials for telehealth providers more easily (Kennedy, 2/27). 

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Probe Results In Medicaid Overbilling Recovery
A New York state commission says a joint investigation has resulted in recovering more than $153,000 in Medicaid funds overbilled for services to the disabled. ... Investigators say they also found that Guest House Executive Director Joseph Akumu diverted more than $132,000 from Medicaid checks (2/28).

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