KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Governments Trying New Ways To Cope With Medicaid Costs

A selection of Medicaid news from around the country.

Stateline: After A Contentious Political Year, Republicans May Moderate Their Approach
Despite the improving budget news, states still have tough choices to make as they continue struggling to keep up with increased demand for services — particularly for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. The National Association of State Budget Officers reported in an annual year-end analysis that Medicaid is eating up a growing share of states' budgets (Gramlich, 1/9). 

Modern Healthcare: Sincerest Form Of Flattery
At least 11 states are adding initiatives resembling accountable care organizations to their Medicaid programs. And many providers who shied away from the Medicare ACO models are interested in the state versions, many of which lack sanctions for providers who fall short of quality and cost benchmarks (Daly, 1/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Funding Va. Government Is A Somber Task; Some Bills Will Stir Passions, Others Will Entertain
Somehow, Virginia's General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell have to come up with billions of dollars more for Medicaid, for keeping the state's aging roads passable and to keep the pension system for Virginia’s public employees solvent (1/8).

Denver Post: How To Fix Medicaid? Republicans Say Hickenlooper Can Call His Buddy In D.C.
Colorado House Republicans have said the state should seek some sort of waiver from the federal government to save money on Medicaid spending, without specifying what that waiver would do. And Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has responded by saying there is no such waiver being granted to states to allow them major Medicaid savings, something he said can only be accomplished through cutbacks in eligibility or services (Hoover, 1/6).

Health News Florida: Blues Plans Create Medicaid HMO
Florida's huge and growing Medicaid managed-care market is gaining a new, formidable player: Florida True Health Inc. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida announced late Thursday that it is forming the joint venture with an experienced Medicaid managed-care organization based in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies. ... AmeriHealth Mercy operates in 11 states, with more than 4 million members in its Medicaid managed care plans (Gentry, 1/6). 

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Association Questions Calif. Budget Plan
California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget for 2012-13 would reduce Medicaid revenue for hospitals in the state by $86 million and could cause problems for rural health clinics, seniors and people with disabilities, according to a media statement from C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association. Brown proposes the state cut spending on Medi-Cal by $842.3 million, spending $59.7 billion in total on the state's Medicaid program, according to the budget's introduction (Barr, 1/6).

California Healthline: Could New Not-for-Profit Requirement Limit Patient Access?
State health officials recently outlined new requirements for the transition of adult day health care centers into the nascent Community Based Adult Services program. They include the stipulation that centers must be not-for-profit to qualify for Medi-Cal funding. Many centers are for-profit, particularly in Los Angeles County where the bulk of day care beneficiaries live. Advocates worry the change could decrease access to care if for-profits are unwilling or unable to make the conversion to not-for-profit status (Gorn, 1/9). 

HealthyCal: Radical Collaboration
Focused on collaboration and prevention, Alameda County is pushing to expand health care and wellness to as many residents as possible. The county was the first nationwide to accept a federal challenge: provide healthcare to every child eligible under two federal programs: the Children's Health Insurance Plan, and Medicaid (or Medi-Cal in California) (Perry, 1/8). 

HealthyCal: Healthcare Plan For Low-Income Adults Includes Mental Health Benefit
Mental health care for low-income adults in California is haphazard. There is no state mandate for mental health treatment, and individual counties set their own standards. That's changing, however, with a state and federal program that brings health services similar to Medi-Cal to low-income adults ahead of the 2014 national health care reform. The low-income healthcare plan uses federal funds to match money spent by counties on uninsured residents, allowing the counties to expand coverage (Moran, 1/8). 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Some Mentally Disabled Lose Services
Last spring, (Evette) King's 19-year-old son, Gerald Stephens, joined a growing number of Georgians with mental illness or developmental disabilities who have been discharged or are at risk of being cut off from a state program that has been a life line for thousands of elderly and disabled people for the past 15 years. The program -- which provides housekeeping, transportation to adult day centers, care management and other services -- not only helps people avoid ending up in nursing homes but ultimately saves taxpayers money, advocates say (Williams, 1/9).

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