State Health Care Programs Add to Fund Shortages
Facing a slowing economy, several states are struggling to meet financial commitments for programs -- including several health initiatives -- that were expanded or implemented during the height of the economic boom, the New York Times reports in a front page story. As of last month, 31 states "reported spending more than they budgeted," with Medicaid programs in 23 states over budget as well. Among the programs highlighted by the Times is one in Missouri, where the state Legislature approved a tax credit to assist seniors in purchasing prescription drugs. Projected to cost $20 million per year, the program's actual cost is now $89 million. In Indiana, a 1998 enrollment campaign for the state's CHIP program led to a 150,000 increase in the number of children enrolled in the program (to 350,000) and also created an increase in Medicaid beneificiaries. The state's Medicaid program now requires a 9.2% budget increase in the next fiscal year, but the Indiana House has proposed only a "scarc[e]" increase. Kathy Gifford, the state's Medicaid director, said, "I don't have a way that I kni today can get to a zero percent growth rate [in Medicaid spending] by July. I don't know what we would do if that budget actually passes." Indiana, like all states, does not having the option of running a deficit, and Gifford's problem is emblematic of the reality of "shrinking tax revenues ... colliding with" increasing program costs, that many states are facing (Belluck, New York Times, 3/9).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.