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8-26-04 Substantial Medicaid Cuts Coming In Georgia

…$27 million in state funds under the reduced budget, $70 million for the current budget amount and $72 million under the enhanced budget.

When the corresponding reductions in federal Medicaid funding are also figured in, the proposals would mean a reduction in spending of as much as $31 million under the worst-case scenario.

AVOC

 

August 26, 2004

 

More Medicaid Cuts Planned

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

Medicaid and care for the elderly is looming as the “1000 lb Gorilla” in Georgia politics.   As we live longer and the population ages, long-term care will be more and more expensive.

 

Many families are faced with the challenge of paying for such costs.  We must find a system that is fair, inclusive and affordable.

 

The problem needs non-partisan leadership at the National & State level.   That is not an optimistic solution in today’s political climate.

 

The problem will not disappear.


 

The Georgia Report

            CapitolImpact.Com

 

August 25, 2004

 

Medicaid faces more spending cuts

 

By Tom Crawford

Georgia’s Medicaid program may have to be cut by as much as $27 million next year, an action that would reduce or eliminate healthcare benefits for thousands of low-income people as well as slash the state’s payments to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes that care for Medicaid patients.

The budget cutbacks were outlined Wednesday for the state Board of Community Health, which will vote on them at its Sept. 8 meeting.

"That’s a huge change," said Tim Burgess, the commissioner of the Department of Community Health (DCH), who said the budget reductions were necessary because of the continued growth in demand for healthcare services from Medicaid.

Georgia’s economy has been sluggish for more than two years, with thousands of workers being dismissed or laid off from their jobs. That has made more people eligible for Medicaid coverage and driven up the program’s expenses.

"We would expect enrollment (in Medicaid) to continue growing," said Carie Summers, the chief financial officer of DCH. "We’re growing faster than the population growth because people aren’t working. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet."

Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered all state agencies to propose budgets for next year that would cut spending by 3 percent, maintain spending at the current level and enhance spending by 5 percent.

DCH officials said Medicaid cutbacks would be required under each of those alternatives: $327 million in state funds under the reduced budget, $70 million for the current budget amount and $72 million under the enhanced budget.

When the corresponding reductions in federal Medicaid funding are also figured in, the proposals would mean a reduction in spending of as much as $31 million under the worst-case scenario.

The budget proposals did not sit well with healthcare advocates and lobbyists who packed the room where the Board of Community Health was meeting.

"They’re looking at the wrong end of the problem," said Linda Lowe, a healthcare advocate for organizations that provide assistance to low-income families. "These agencies have taken cut after cut after cut."

Lowe said the problem originated with the state’s "antiquated revenue structure" that can’t provide the funding needed for Medicaid services. "There are some corporate tax loopholes that could be closed and they would save $00 million," she said.

"We’re kind of in shock right now," said a hospital lobbyist. "The scenarios are atrocious."

Burgess is working on a proposal to move about one million Medicaid patients into a managed-care, HMO-type arrangement to try to hold down the program’s costs. That Medicaid HMO would begin operations in January 2006 if Perdue and the General Assembly decide to go ahead with it………

Some of the proposed Medicaid cutbacks include:

  • Cutting the rates the state pays to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes that care for Medicaid patients by 3 to 5 percent.
  • Charging premiums for children under the age of six in the PeachCare program.
  • Charging premiums for children in the Katie Beckett program.
  • Capping the number of children enrolled in PeachCare at the current level of 187,000.
  • Making it more difficult for undocumented aliens to receive emergency medical assistance.
  • No longer providing dental, orthotics, prosthetic and podiatry services for adults.
  • Implementing disease and case management for the aged, blind and disabled patients.
  • Requiring pre-certification of hospital admissions for children.
  • Expanding a pilot program that reduces emergency room utilization.
  • Ending supplemental payments to hospitals for neonatal programs.
  • Increasing the average wholesale price discount from 11 percent to 14 percent for pharmacy prescriptions.
  • Eliminating non-palliative drugs in hospice.
  • Eliminating ambulance and transportation services for adults.
  • Strictly enforcing income requirements for PeachCare.
  • Eliminating all forms of "medically needy" assistance.
  • Eliminating the breast and cervical cancer program.


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