Alabama Medicaid Budget Remains Unknown

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Alabama lawmakers held a joint legislativemeeting on Wednesday to discuss next year's Medicaid budget, but the stateMedicaid commissioner said the amount of an expected reduction in federalfunding remains unknown, the Mobile Press-Register reports. The $4.2 billion programis mostly funded by the federal government, but the state provided $470 millionthis year, more than a quarter of its general fund budget.

The loss of federal funds for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, as well asincreased per capita income in the state, will result in a loss of federaldollars for the Medicaid program, but state Medicaid Commissioner CarolHermann-Steckel said the amount of the reduction was unknown. Medicaidofficials in October estimated a loss of at least $135 million in federalfunding, but Hermann-Steckel refused to comment on the figure.

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According to Hermann-Steckel, the Medicaid office is considering how inflationand cost-savings programs would affect each item on the budget (Lyman, MobilePress-Register, 11/29). She addedthat she would not recommend any cuts in the program, for which one in four Alabama residents iseligible. In addition, she noted that there is no requirement for her to sharethe Medicaid budget plan with the Legislature until Gov. Bob Riley (R) submitshis budget plan during the opening days of the legislative session that beginsFeb. 5, 2008.

State Sen. Roger Bedford (D) said, "I'm very disappointed that a Cabinetmember of this administration that controls 25% of the spending in the generalfund budget is not able to present us with numbers 60 days out." Heestimated a loss of up to $600 million in federal funds, but Hermann-Steckeldisputed the numbers (Lowry, Huntsville Times, 11/29). Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.)said that the federal government had not taken adequate measures to makefunding adjustments and "has been the model of irresponsibility in thisarea" (Mobile Press-Register, 11/29).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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