Federal, State Officials Discuss Reduced Medicaid Spending at AAHP Conference
Increasing health care costs, balanced-budget requirements and below-average tax revenues -- caused in part by the nationwide economic recession -- have led many states to "significantly reduce" their spending on Medicaid, federal legislators and state officials said at a Medicare/Medicaid conference sponsored by the American Association of Health Plans. UPI/Nando Times reports that the recession has further stressed Medicaid budgets because an increasing number of people are eligible for benefits under the program. Rep. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, "Thirty-four states are in deficit situations in Medicaid. It's a crisis situation today." Barbara Edwards, deputy director of Ohio Health Plans for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said that the state faces a $2 billion deficit, while the Medicaid program requires an additional $850 million over the next two-year budget cycle to "maintain the status quo." Edwards added, "We have got a train wreck coming, so good health care policy may not be enough." Greg Vadner, director of the Missouri Division of Medical Services, told conference attendees that the state has cut $286 million from its Medicaid program in the last year as a result of budget constraints (Beck, UPI/Nando Times, 9/15). CMS Administrator Tom Scully also spoke at the AAHP conference, and he reiterated the Bush administration's support for legislation that would increase payments to Medicare providers. But Scully added that the White House is "going to push back very hard to only do Medicare givebacks that are justifiable from the public policy angle. We feel very strongly we'd like to get a [Medicare] prescription drug benefit [passed in Congress]. It's our No. 1 priority" (Wheeler, Gannett/Arizona Republic, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.