KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Budget Cuts Would End Aid To New Legal Immigrants; Minn. Dems Criticize Pawlenty For Relying On Federal Funds

Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest proposals to close California's budget shortfall would end public assistance for most new legal immigrants, eliminating emergency cash, food and medical aid for those who don't yet qualify for federal welfare. The proposal would represent an about-face for the state. In 1996, Congress denied access to welfare for most legal immigrants who weren't citizens. California and other states established programs to fill the gap. Now, officials say the state can't afford the price tag" (Zavis and Gorman, 2/16).

Minnesota Public Radio: "Democrats in the Minnesota House and Senate are taking issue with Gov. Tim Pawlenty for including a big chunk of federal money in his plan to erase a $1.2 billion state budget deficit. The Republican governor has been a frequent critic of federal spending, but the plan he unveiled yesterday relies on Congress to deliver $387 million in new Medicaid funding to help balance the books. DFL leaders say Pawlenty fell far short in his pledge to solve the state budget deficit through spending cuts alone. They say his supplemental budget proposal delivers only $700 million in permanent reductions in spending, with the remaining $500 million reached through one-time money" (Pugmire, 2/16). 

Atlanta Journal Constitution: "Several key lawmakers say Gov. Sonny Perdue's plan for a hospital 'bed' tax -- to help fund a $608 million shortfall in Medicaid -- is going nowhere fast. They say they won't support a new tax that could add to the burden of already struggling hospitals and possibly raise medical costs for patients. ... Several proposals are swirling around: the hospital bed tax, a higher tax on tobacco, a Medicaid rate cut, and good old-fashioned spending cuts. ... The House is slated to hold a public hearing on the hospital bed tax at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol. ... One thing is certain: ... There is a huge hole to fill in the state budget, and the Medicaid gap is emerging as one of the biggest and most controversial issues in the fiscal 2011 budget, which takes effect in July" (Schneider, 2/16).

The Washington Post: "Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has privately recommended cutting ... $300 million from health programs" as well as taking other steps "to help offset a $2.2 billion budget shortfall over two years, according to sources familiar with the plan. ... The health cuts would reduce mental-health treatment beds by 232, take 5 percent in funds from community service boards that offer substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, and freeze enrollment for a program that provides insurance to low-income children" (Kumar, 2/17).

BusinessWeek/The Associated Press: "Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday told the state's Human Services chief they want more influence over how the state will reduce the cost of Medicaid programs by $400 million. Arkansas Department of Human Services Director John Selig told lawmakers the department plans to keep next year's budget for the program at the same level as this year. But Selig says that means cutting $400 million in the program because of increasing costs and more clients. That would mean a cut of $100 million in the state's share of Medicaid costs. Arkansas receives $3 from the federal government for every $1 spent in Medicaid" (DeMillo, 2/16).

The Austin American-Statesman: "The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has offered up a way to protect their retiree health care fund even while meeting the mandate from state leaders to propose budget cuts totaling 5 percent of the agency's budget paid for by general revenue." The health care fund is projected to be insolvent by the end of 2015. "TRS has proposed covering the $19 million in health care contributions" by using money from the pension fund (Alexander, 2/16).

NY1: "The struggle for St. Vincent's Hospital to keep its doors open may dominate current headlines, but some state health organizations say other medical facilities may soon face financial challenges as well. ... Health care groups say state budget cuts totalling about $2.2 billion over the past two years have mostly affected Medicaid, as well as nursing homes and home care. The next round of cuts could add up to an additional $900 million" (Drexel, 2/16).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.