State Budgets Aim At Health Programs, Medicaid To Bridge Shortfalls

Medicaid and other health program cuts are on the minds of state lawmakers around the nation. In Maine, the governor signed Medicaid cuts into law Wednesday, and California and Kansas are weighing similar cuts as they struggle to balance their budgets.

The Associated Press/Boston Globe: Maine Budget-Balancing Bill Signed By Governor
Even though Governor Paul LePage signed a bill Wednesday to make up for an $80 million budget shortfall largely through Medicaid cuts, the debate is far from over. Maine voters can expect the cuts to become an issue in this year’s legislative election. ... Democrats say the budget cuts will take health care services from more than 24,000 Mainers. They had supported a proposal they said would have used surplus funding to blunt the impact on seniors, children, and working families (Adams, 5/17).

California Healthline: Healthy Families, Seniors Initiatives Questioned
In the governor's May budget revision released this week, in addition to $2.5 billion in new cuts to health care in California, there were a couple of proposals that raised big red flags for many health care advocates. In particular, two budget items took a lot of heat: the effort to move about 1 million dual-eligible Californians into managed care programs; and the state's plan to move 870,000 children out of the Healthy Families program and into Medi-Cal care. In both cases, advocates said the state is taking on way too much, too quickly -- putting the two most vulnerable populations in California at real risk (Gorn, 5/17).

Kansas Health Institute News: Legislature Ends Day 95 Without Budget Accord
Among the things tentatively agreed to on Wednesday: The House agreed to drop its budget proviso that would have barred the Kansas Insurance Department from spending federal grant dollars associated with the Affordable Care Act, which Kansas, along with 25 other states, is challenging in the U.S. Supreme Court. The department had about $800,000 of a $1.9 million grant remaining as of April 18, according to legislative staffers. Negotiators agreed to spend $3.6 million in the coming fiscal year to help reduce waiting lists for home and community based Medicaid services for the disabled; $1.8 million would be earmarked for the physically disabled and $1.8 million would be for the developmentally disabled (Shields, 5/16).

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