State Budget Cuts Jeopardize Coverage for More Than 1M People
More than one million people could lose their health coverage and many more could have their health benefits reduced because of enacted and proposed state budget cuts to Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs, according to a Families USA report published on Thursday, Reuters reports (Fox, Reuters, 12/11).
According to the report, mounting budget deficits in 19 states already have caused actual or proposed cuts to Medicaid or SCHIP programs for fiscal years 2009 or 2010. Three more states have put planned Medicaid or SCHIP expansions on hold (Skotzko, CQ HealthBeat, 12/11).
Families USA found that states are cutting Medicaid and SCHIP by reducing eligibility, cutting benefits, raising out-of-pocket costs or lowering payments to providers (Reuters, 12/11).
According to the report, the most common action states are taking is lowering payments to providers. Fourteen states already have implemented such reductions and six states are considering them (CQ HealthBeat, 12/11).
According to the report, every dollar a state cuts from its Medicaid or SCHIP program saves the state between 17 cents and 50 cents in state funding while costing between 50 cents and 83 cents in federal matching funds (Reuters, 12/11).
The report calls for increased federal funds for Medicaid and the reauthorization of SCHIP, which expires in March 2009.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said, "Medicaid is one of the largest -- and in some states the largest -- state expenditure. It means that the health care safety net is very much at risk when state budgets are strained."
"It is our hope frankly that they deal with [SCHIP] in the context of the stimulus package," Pollack said.Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently said that he planned to include a short-term extension of SCHIP in an economic stimulus package but hoped that it would be part of a greater health care reform effort (Hunt, CongressDaily, 12/11). 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.