Nevada Medicaid Payments Will Face Further Cuts
Nevada physicians say a plan to reduce Medicaid hospital payments for inpatient services by 14% will lead more hospitals to eliminate services for beneficiaries, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The cuts would be on top of 5% "across the board" inpatient care reductions announced earlier this year by the state Department of Health and Human Services, which resulted in larger cuts for certain services because the 5% is an average.
Those cuts have led some specialists to stop seeing Medicaid beneficiaries altogether. The proposed additional cuts would cause some rural hospitals closures, delays in care, emergency department overcrowding and fewer services at for-profit hospitals, according to Nevada Hospital Association Executive Director Bill Welch.
Hospitals in Nevada with more than 100 beds provided a combined $533 million in uncompensated care last year, Welch said. In addition, 34% of state residents are able to pay for health care services provided. Larry Matheis, executive director of the Nevada State Medical Association, said, "We're witnessing the unwinding of a very thin safety net," adding, "The costs to the state are going to be greater than the savings; it's just a matter of the costs showing up a little later."
Hospitals also have been warned that unless the state fixes its cash flow problems, Medicaid payments could stop completely by mid-March 2009 or early April 2009 until the next fiscal year begins in August 2009. DHHS' Health Financing and Policy Division Administrator Chuck Duarte said the agency is expected to cut reimbursements for inpatient services by 10% in FY 2010, but these cuts could be precluded by changes to the state budget. The state already has the lowest rate of per capita Medicaid spending in the country (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 11/22).
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