KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas Grapple With Medicaid Cuts To Help Balance Budget

States consider major cuts to Medicaid services and reimbursement rates to help fill gaps in the budget.

The Associated Press: "Lawmakers are considering cutting all services for nearly 26,000 people with disabilities as South Carolina tries to plug a $560 million budget hole. Parents say the proposed cuts to day care programs and other services would force them to give up much-needed jobs to stay home and care for their young and adult children." But "[l]awmakers say they have little choice. They are trying to close a shortfall in next year's budget in a heavily Republican state where tax increases are not considered a viable option" (Davenport, 3/3).

McKnight's Long-Term Care News: "Starting April 1, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is reducing Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes by 3.25%. While the reduction is expected to save the Medicaid agency $5 million, it also will result in the loss of $15 million in federal matching dollars, according to a Tulsa World report. Long-term care and other healthcare providers that serve Medicaid patients will face the same payment cut" (3/1).

Arkansas News: "Suggestions received by the state on how to reduce future Medicaid costs by up to $400 million are being placed on the Internet for public viewing, and the state Medicaid director said today he hopes to finalize a recommendation to the governor this spring. Everything from cuts to Medicaid providers to charging Medicaid recipients additional co-payments is being considered, said Gene Gessow, director of the Division of Medical Services for the state Department of Human Services" (Moritz, 3/2).

The Boston Globe: "Cities and towns would save tens of millions of dollars in health care costs for employees, retirees, and elected officials by joining the state's much larger, more flexible health care system, according to a new report by the Boston Foundation." The report "illustrates how health care expenses are severely hampering communities across Massachusetts. Boston, for example, could reduce its health insurance premiums this fiscal year by up to 17 percent, or $45 million, by joining the state's Group Insurance Commission, the report finds. Â… Currently, communities can join the GIC only with the approval of local unions," and most "unions across the state have rejected such a move because it would end up costing their members more money, particularly in the form of higher copayments" (Murphy, 3/3).

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