KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Lawmakers Struggle To Find Solutions As Medicaid Programs Swell State Budget Gaps

The (Louisville) Courier-Journal: "Passport Health Plan, often praised for its efficiency as Kentucky's only Medicaid managed care venture, costs the state far more per person than the state's regular Medicaid program ... The assertion was made in a five-page letter sent Tuesday by state Medicaid Commissioner Elizabeth Johnson - and strongly disputed by Passport officials - to the staff of the House budget committee. The panel is considering an expansion of the Passport approach as one of many ways to save money to help plug a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall in the 2010-12 state budget" (Loftus, 2/17).

Associated Press/BusinessWeek: "With Medicaid costs now consuming 26 percent of Florida's budget, the upcoming session seems primed for a program overhaul. But legislators will tackle the issue amid a foundering pilot program, a class-action Medicaid lawsuit that could cost the state millions, all while waiting to see if and how a federal health bill will affect the state" (Kennedy, 2/17).

Meanwhile, "a budget 'priority list' in the [florida] House Health Care Appropriations Committee identifies possible reductions that would amount to an overall 29 percent cut in mental health services statewide, according to the Ft. Myers News-Press  (Gluck, 2/17).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Hospital officials turned out in force at the state Capitol on Wednesday to oppose Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed hospital tax, saying they preferred a tobacco tax to fill a massive Medicaid shortfall. … They called it a 'sick tax' and a 'bed tax.' They called it lots of nasty names, asserting that the 1.6 percent tax on patient revenues could increase health care costs, prompt job losses and postpone hospital improvements" (Schneider, 2/17).

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