KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Ark., Ga. Latest To Ponder Medicaid Budget Shortfalls, Solutions

Arkansas and Georgia are the latest to debate the cost of Medicaid to their budget bottom lines -- and possible solutions.

The Associated Press: Arkansas Lowers Medicaid Shortfall Projection To $61M
Arkansas Medicaid officials said Thursday they're no longer proposing cuts to nursing home care and three other areas after lowering the projected shortfall the program faces next year to $61 million. The Department of Human Services, which last year had detailed $138 million in cuts Medicaid faced in the budget that begins July 1 because of a deficit, lowered the estimate after the program's costs came in $21 million under budget for the first half of the current fiscal year (1/31).

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia House To Debate Hospital Tax Bill Friday
A bill extending a controversial fee on hospitals that props up the state's Medicaid program could receive final passage Friday. The House will consider Senate Bill 24, which would give the state's community health agency power to levy the fee, commonly called the "bed tax." The fee helps the state fill a nearly $700 million hole in the Medicaid budget. Not passing the bill, supporters say, would limit access to critical care for thousands of Georgians. Anti-tax activists see the fee as tantamount to a tax increase, but even lawmakers who loathe extending or creating taxes say ending the fee would deal a devastating blow to Georgia’s health care system (Sheinin, 1/31).

In the meantime, an audit of North Carolina's Medicaid program has the governor there calling the system "broken" --

North Carolina Health News: Medicaid Audit Finds Overruns, Governor Calls Program 'Broken'
North Carolina's Medicaid program has been plagued by cost overruns and poor budget projections, and the program needs to be fixed before the state can consider expanding it, Gov. Pat McCrory told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning. McCrory said that even before he took the oath of office, he had asked State Auditor Beth Wood to review expenditures in the program that provides health care for low-income children, seniors, people with disabilities and pregnant women (Hoban, 2/1). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.