Proposed Medicaid Cuts Could Cost Massachusetts $100M Annually

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A reduction in federal Medicaid spending proposed by the Bushadministration could cost Massachusetts more than $100 million annuallyand hinder the state's efforts to ensure all residents have healthcoverage, the Boston Globe reports.

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Theproposed cuts would affect new physician training programs,rehabilitation programs for the disabled and support services forschoolchildren who require special care. They also could hurt thestate's efforts to enroll uninsured children in Medicaid, which is a"critical part" of the state's health insurance law, the Globereports. In addition, a proposal to limit federal funding foroutpatient hospital care for all beneficiaries could eliminate orreduce payments for a broad range of services, including physiciancare, dental care, physical therapy and blood work, according to Massachusetts Hospital Association Vice President Joe Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrickestimated the potential loss "in the $10 million range." Massachusetts'annual budget for Medicaid is $8 billion, about half of which isfederal funds. According to the Globe, the proposed cutscould force the state to limit some services or cover more of the costsat a time when the state already "faces rising costs for its landmarkhealth insurance initiative." State Medicaid Director Thomas Dehnersaid, "Without those services, certain individuals will get worse andend up costing us all more money. It is very bad policy."

However, Dennis Smith, director of CMSoperations, said, "Over time, states have found different ways to shifttheir cost of Medicaid over to the federal government. It's ourresponsibility to push back" to ensure federal funding is being usedonly for "medically necessary services for Medicaid-eligible people."The cuts do not require congressional approval, but federal lawmakershave imposed a moratorium until May 2008 on the proposed cuts tophysician training and limits to state funding options (Dembner, Boston Globe, 11/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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