KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger Plans Health Cuts; News Outlets Report On Medicaid Funding Issues

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning cuts to health programs and has "warned more would come if the federal government does not increase program reimbursements," ModernHealthcare reports. "His $82.9 billion spending plan for fiscal 2010–11 includes $750 million in cuts to Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. Prison medical care would be cut by $811 million under his plan." Schwarzenegger is seeking $1.8 billion more in Medicaid funds by raising California's match to the national average for the program - 57 percent (Vesely, 1/8). 

Los Angeles Times/ProPublica: The governor's budget, though, also includes a funding increase request. "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Friday for 107 new investigative staffers to improve the discipline of errant nurses and other health professionals, a rare push for more in a budget proposing less in almost every area." It would cost $12.8 million to hire 107 new investigative staffers. "Administration officials say they are committed to reducing the time it takes to investigate and discipline problem caregivers to an average of 12 to 18 months" (Ornstein and Weber, 1/9).

The Sacramento Bee: "Health care advocates estimate that California's budget cuts have forced more than 450,000 Californians, including severely disabled people, to either pay for or go without dental care since July." The estimates were made last week by Health Access California in a report that "uses state statistics to estimate the impact of deep cuts to Medi-Cal enacted last year by the Legislature and by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger." A $129.4 million cut in the state's Medi-Cal coverage dropped dental care for most adults. "Health Access came up with its estimates by looking at state records for how many people used Medi-Cal to get those services during the one-year period before the cut." It supposed half the number of people cut would need the services since July (Ferriss, 1/8).

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Department of Health Care Finance's "sloppy accounting (in its Medicaid program) had cost the city tens of millions of dollars from the federal government, and the (Mayor Adrian) Fenty administration said it was determined to fix the problems" a year ago, but a new short fall is imminent, The Washington Post reports. "A year after halting Medicaid claims so it could straighten out its billing, the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency told city officials that it faces a shortfall of about $10 million because it hasn't fixed all of the problems and isn't ready to resume claiming money from Medicaid. … CFSA's mismanagement of the Medicaid process has been a persistent problem as well, and auditors have found staggering errors and rejected millions of dollars in claims" (Cauvni, 1/11). 

Bangor Daily News: Federal authorities are warning the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that it too is not keeping proper records of Medicaid drug spending rebates. "Maine DHHS Commissioner Brenda Harvey acknowledged last week that the report is correct and added that the state's formal response to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, due later this month, will say the state is moving toward compliance as quickly as it can be done" (Leary, 1/11).

The Associated Press/WBZ also reports that the cuts threaten services for Maine's mentally ill. "The head of the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says the proposed 10 percent cuts in state Medicaid funding would result in a loss of about $90 million in mental health funding" (1/8).

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