KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Medicaid Cuts, Changes Proposed To Save Money

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing cutting $2.7 billion from that state's Medicaid program. Also, New Mexico's governor is proposing Medicaid patients pay more out of pocket if they go to the ER for care that's not an emergency. Georgia may drug-test Medicaid patients, and California Medicaid changes are questioned by patient advocates.

Bloomberg: Illinois's 'Toughest' Budget May Cut $2.7 Billion From Medicaid
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will propose a $33.8 billion spending plan that would cut $2.7 billion from the Medicaid program, which provides health care for the poor. It's the "toughest budget," Jack Lavin, Quinn's chief of staff, told reporters in Springfield, capital of the fifth-most-populous U.S. state. The plan, an increase from the current $33 billion, would close two prisons and four mental-health facilities, he said. The state faces a backlog of $9 billion in unpaid bills (Jones, 2/22).

Chicago Tribune: Quinn To Call For Dozens Of Prison, Human Services Closures
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will deliver a bad-news budget Wednesday, suggesting that Illinois close numerous prisons, mental health centers and social service offices, cut health care for the poor and shut down popular tourist sites for two days a week at times during the year. The problem is the same as it's been for years at the Capitol — there's not enough money coming in while costs are rising. The quick math: The state expects to take in about $700 million more during the financial year that starts July 1. State worker pension costs alone will rise by more than $1 billion (Long and Garcia, 2/21).

Reuters: Pension, Medicaid Changes Sought In Illinois Budget
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will call for cuts to escalating pension and Medicaid costs in his budget address on Wednesday to stop the two programs From devouring more of the cash-strapped state's general funds budget, top officials in his office said on Tuesday. ... As for Medicaid, the Democratic governor's $33.7 billion general funds budget aims to reduce spending by $2.7 billion. Without fundamental changes to the program, Stermer warned that deferred Medicaid bills would mushroom in future fiscal years, resulting in "a recipe for collapse of the Medicaid program" (Pierog, 2/21).

The Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: New Mexico Proposed To Overhaul Medicaid Program
Gov. Susana Martinez's administration is proposing to overhaul a program that provides health care to a fourth of the state's population, and the changes could require some needy New Mexicans to dig into their pockets to pay a fee if they go to an emergency room for medical care that's not considered an emergency. One of the goals of the planned revision is to slow the rate of growth in Medicaid, which accounts for 16 percent of this year's state budget and costs New Mexico taxpayers nearly $1 billion (Massey, 2/21).

Georgia Health News: State Drug-Testing Bill Would Break New Ground
Georgia could become the first state to require drug testing of Medicaid applicants, if a Senate bill becomes law. ... Claudette Bazile, the Community Health official, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that a federal agency has not approved any state for such a mandate. She said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denied requests by Alaska and Idaho to drug-test Medicaid applicants (Miller, 2/21).

California Watch: Major Medi-Cal Changes Raise Questions
Sweeping changes for the state's medical program for the needy are taking shape, even as legislative advisers and advocates raise major questions. Changes include more seniors being routed to managed care programs, a reinvention of how hospitals are paid and the collapse of two state agencies that currently serve beneficiaries (Jewett, 2/22).

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