KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Worry About Medicaid Stimulus Money Drying Up Under Scaled-Back Health Bill

News outlets report on health care funding gaps in state budgets, including Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia and Wisconsin, and the possible impact of a scaled-back federal health bill.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Georgia is projecting a $608 million deficit in Medicaid, and Gov. Sonny Perdue is proposing a tax on hospitals and managed care insurers to help bridge the gap, officials said Thursday. The Medicaid gap is largely due to the reduction of $506 million in money from sources that include the federal stimulus program and the national settlement with tobacco companies. In addition, the recession has spurred a projected 7.7 percent increase in enrollment in the state's Medicaid health program for the needy from July 2009 to June of this year" (Schneider, 1/22).

(Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel: "Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday proposed basic, stopgap health coverage for people waiting to get in the state's BadgerCare Plus Core program. More than 20,000 people have been placed on a waiting list for the BadgerCare plan since Oct. 9, when unexpectedly strong demand and budget limitations forced the program for low-income adults without children younger than 19 to halt enrollments. Now, Doyle is proposing a temporary option for uninsured adults without dependent children: a plan that provides limited access to doctors, hospitals and generic drugs for monthly premiums of $130" (Romell, 1/21).

The Associated Press/ABC News: "The uncertainty surrounding national health care legislation after a Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts could have direct implications on Maryland's budget, which was formally released to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday. The $12.7 billion operating budget fills in a $2 billion shortfall by using a mix of cuts, fund transfers, debt and anticipated federal stimulus money. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, built into the budget an assumed $389 million in additional federal stimulus money through Medicaid that is in the U.S. House of Representatives health care reform legislation," which now seems unlikely to happen (Witte, 1/21).

WBUR: "Despite having reached its goal of near-universal health coverage, Massachusetts could be years away from controlling the rapidly rising cost of health care, according to a key legislator involved in state health reform. 'I don't think we're going to get cost containment done this year,' said state Rep. Harriett Stanley, speaking at a national conference on Massachusetts health reform in Boston on Thursday. … Nationwide, the cost of health care has been increasing at 2 percent above the rate of inflation for the past four decades, and private health insurance premiums in Massachusetts have risen 10 to 15 percent annually in recent years" (Pfeiffer, 1/22).

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