KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Alabama Senate Passes Budget That Provides No New Funding For Medicaid Reform

The governor had requested an increase of about $100 million for the program, part of which would go to setting up his new regional care organizations. Lawmakers said the state didn't have that money and they didn't want to increase taxes. Alabama Senate Passes General Fund Budget
The Alabama Senate tonight passed a General Fund budget that would essentially level-fund most agencies next year, including Medicaid, which had requested a $100 million increase. The budget calls for spending $1.8 billion from the General Fund, about 4 percent more than this year. Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed budget would have given Medicaid $785 million from the General Fund, $100 million more than this year. But Bentley's plan depended on taking $181 million from education revenues. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said there was no support for that, or for raising taxes. (Cason, 2/25)

Anniston (Ala.) Star: Alabama Senate Passes Budget Without Medicaid Fix
Plans to reform Alabama's Medicaid program would end — and the state would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds — under the state budget passed by the Alabama Senate on Thursday. "We're going to have to decide how we want to fund Medicaid, or suffer the disastrous consequences," said Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, chairman of the Senate's General Fund budget committee. (Lockette, 2/25)

Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser: Ala. Senate Approves $1.8 Billion General Fund Budget
The budget also maintains state funding for Medicaid, the mitochondria of the state’s health care system, at $685.1 million. Medicaid officials warn that funding level would make it impossible to install regional care organizations (RCOs), aimed at moving Medicaid from a fee-for-service delivery model to one that rewards health outcomes. The funding level could also lead to service cuts. But Republican leadership in the Senate said the budget could not sustain ongoing increases in Medicaid, which now makes up 38 percent of total spending in the General Fund. (Lyman, 2/25)

And in news from Louisiana —

The Associated Press: Louisiana Hit With Credit Rating Downgrade, Blow To State
Louisiana's credit rating was downgraded for the first time in more than a decade Thursday, in response to years of budget instability that leave public colleges and government services wallowing in continued financial uncertainty. ... The national rating agency dropped the state's rating by one notch, to Aa3. Moody's cited the steep drop in oil price's effect on state tax collections, years "of structural imbalance" in the budget and declining financial reserves. It raised concerns about state retirement debts and the growing cost of Louisiana's Medicaid program. (Deslatte, 2/25)

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