Health Care Reform Around the Nation for the Week of May 18
Last week, Missouri lawmakers approved two bills that extend or create health care provider taxes or certification fees as part of an effort to draw in more federal Medicaid matching dollars, the AP/Ann Arbor News reports.
The first bill would create a provider tax for ambulances and in-home care providers and a certification fee for certain mental health care providers.
The second bill would extend until 2011 the expiration date on provider taxes on pharmacies, as well as Medicaid managed care and intermediate care facilities for the mentally disabled.
The taxes and fees are collected to generate additional federal Medicaid dollars, which are then redistributed to the providers (AP/Ann Arbor News, 5/12).
Last week, a Nevada Senate-Assembly budget subcommittee voted to reject some of the changes to the $900 million state Medicaid budget proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) and others, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Gines, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 5/12).
The committee voted to continue a 5% cut in Medicaid payments to hospitals instituted in October 2008.Â It rejected a proposal by Gibbons to cut an additional 5% in July 2009 (Ryan, Las Vegas Sun, 5/11).
The committee's decision will require $9.7 million in additional general funds over the next two fiscal years (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 5/12).
In addition, the committee voted to reduce the rate for in-home personal care services. The committee did agree with the governor's suggestion to limit hours for in-home services.
The budget panel also voted to reinstate about $1 million in the Medicaid budget for vision services for adults and another $1 million for pediatric home health services for children from low-income families.
The subcommittee also voted to uncap the Check Up program budget that provides medical care for low-income children, estimating that about 24,000 children would be covered under the program next fiscal year and 31,000 in the following fiscal year.
The subcommittee agreed with Gibbons' suggestion to eliminate $1.6 million in payments to hospitals for graduate medical education over the next two years and to cut more than $5 million in enhanced payments for pediatric and obstetrics services (Las Vegas Sun, 5/11).
On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signed two bills that institute new rules to determine eligibility for no-cost or reduced-price care at state hospitals and mandate that staff provide financial assistance information to all patients, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The rules take effect June 1 and replace voluntary guidelines developed by the Maryland Hospital Association, which decided eligibility for no-cost care.
The rules stipulate that Maryland hospitals must give no-cost care to all state residents with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level. Hospitals also must give care at reduced prices to low-income patients above that level.
According to the legislation, the rate-setting commission at each hospital can set a higher income threshold for no-cost care after reviewing various factors, such as the patient profile and the hospital's financial standing.
The legislation also requires hospitals to create an information sheet to be given to patients or their families before discharge that displays how to apply for no-cost and reduced-price care. Hospitals also must post information regarding financial assistance throughout the facility and billing office.
In addition, the bills require the Health Services Cost Review Commission -- a seven-member panel appointed by the governor -- to establish a committee to make recommendations (Drew, Baltimore Sun, 5/8).
On Thursday, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) vetoed a $1.5 million bill to increase Medicaid reimbursements for mental health care services over three years, the Charleston Gazette reports. Â
Manchin said that the state will direct $12.7 million in state and federal money to community-based mental health services and reduce overcrowding in psychiatric hospitals.
Including federal matching funds, the legislation would have generated as much as $6 million for the state's Medicaid program (Knezevich, Charleston Gazette, 5/7).
Manchin said the state will allocate $2 million, as well as $5.7 million in federal Medicaid matching funds and $5 million from the federal stimulus package, to bolster the Medicaid mental health care system, spokesperson Matt Turner said (Charleston Gazette, 5/7).
Both chambers of the state Legislature passed the bill unanimously and might seek to override the veto (AP/Charleston Daily Mail, 5/7).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.