Recent Medicaid News In California, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada

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Summaries of recent news about Medicaid programs in California, Maryland, Mississippi and Nevada appear below.

• California: The state's new fiscal year began on Tuesday, but lawmakers have not yet approved a state budget, which will prevent most physicians, hospitals, pharmacists and adult day care centers from receiving Medicaid payments, the Sacramento Bee reports. The state faces an estimated $15.2 billion deficit in its $101 billion general fund budget. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed FY 2009 budget totals $144.4 billion, including special funds and bonds. According to the Bee, the "tardy state budget -- plus the prospect of even deeper cuts in California's low-income health insurance program -- has patients and providers bracing for reduced access to health care, including closures of medical facilities throughout the state." Lawmakers already have approved cuts to Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, that will save an estimated $602 million in FY 2009, including a 10% reduction in provider reimbursements (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 6/29).


• Maryland: Several new health care laws took effect on Tuesday, including one that expands the state's Medicaid program, the AP/Annapolis Capital reports (AP/Annapolis Capital, 6/29). The new law expands Medicaid eligibility to parents with annual incomes up to 116% of the federal poverty level (Smitherman, Baltimore Sun, 7/1). Childless adults will become eligible for Medicaid beginning next year (Rein, Washington Post, 7/1). A separate law that also went into effect on Tuesday requires that families indicate on their tax forms whether their children have health insurance. The state comptroller will then send Medicaid enrollment forms to parents who meet income eligibility guidelines. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Medicaid expansion and other coverage expansion efforts aim to reduce the number of uninsured state residents by 100,000 (Baltimore Sun, 7/1). Another law that took effect on Tuesday will increase Medicaid payments for dentists who treat children. According to the Maryland State Dental Association, reimbursements for a common treatment to prevent tooth decay will increase from $9 to $33 under the law (Washington Post, 7/1).

• Mississippi: A bill (HB 17) aimed at stopping Medicaid cuts proposed by Gov. Haley Barbour (R) "appears doomed when lawmakers resume a special session" this week, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. The state House on Friday approved the bill, which would delay the cuts until February 2009, but the state Senate did not take action on the bill before adjourning. A spokesperson for Barbour said the governor will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. Barbour has threatened to impose Medicaid cuts that would go into effect next month if a hospital tax plan he supports is not adopted (Chandler, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 6/28).

• Nevada: The state Division of Health Care Financing and Policy is canceling a planned rate increase for physicians and specialists who treat Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as a new program to treat traumatic brain injuries, because the state will lose $20 million in federal Medicaid funds next year, the Las Vegas Sun reports. The state had set aside $17.2 million for higher physician payments. Division Administrator Chuck Duarte said "there is risk associated with delayed care" as a result of canceling the increase. According to Duarte, beneficiaries might have to wait longer to see specialists, and some physicians might not accept Medicaid beneficiaries. The 2007 state Legislature included enough funding in the FY 2008 budget to cover 163,819 beneficiaries, but enrollment has reached 187,000. The budget for FY 2009, which begins Tuesday, includes enough funding to cover 167,204 beneficiaries (Ryan, Las Vegas Sun, 6/28).

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