Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report Highlights State Budget Developments
Summaries of recent news about state budget developments appear below.
- Colorado: The state House on Thursday by voice vote approved a fiscal year 2010 budget that would fill a $300 million shortfall with a combination of spending cuts and revenue-generating actions, the Denver Post reports. The proposal includes about $255.4 million in revenue-generating measures and about $77.6 million in cuts, including $58 million in cuts to Medicaid provider payments. The measure also would shift $35 million in tobacco tax funds that are currently used for anti-smoking and health programs to help fill the budget gap. A roll-call vote on the plan is scheduled for Friday, and then the budget will be sent to the state Senate for consideration (Hoover, Denver Post, 4/17).
- Missouri: The Missouri Senate on Tuesday passed a final budget plan that did not include funding for an expansion of CHIP, as proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D), the AP/Columbia Missourian reports. Nixon's plan would have eliminated CHIP premiums for families with incomes of 150% to 185% of the federal poverty level and reduced premiums for families with incomes of up to 225% of the poverty level. The changes would have allowed an additional 16,000 children to enroll in the program and would have cost the state $7.7 million and the federal government $35.3 million. The Senate voted down, along party lines, an amendment proposed on Tuesday that would have eliminated premiums for families with incomes below 185% of the poverty level. Republicans said they would not commit state money to expanding the program because it could continue to grow and require cuts in the future. However, they indicated that they would consider the premium changes if a "creative funding arrangement" was proposed, according to the AP/Missourian. The state House also rejected the expansion (Lieb, AP/Columbia Missourian, 4/15). The state Senate's $23.2 billion final budget plan would increase the Medicaid income eligibility threshold to 50% of the poverty level. The budget would use a state hospital tax to fund the expansion. The House and Senate will debate the differences in their budget plans over the next three weeks (Noble, Kansas City Star, 4/15).
- Nevada: The Nevada Senate Finance Committee on Monday rejected Gov. Jim Gibbons' (R) plan to abolish the Governor's Office of Consumer Health Assistance for Hospital Patients, which he said would save $926,993, the Nevada Appeal reports. Supporters of retaining the office said that since it was created about a decade ago, the office has saved residents millions of dollars on large hospital and other medical bills. State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D) proposed restoring eight of the 10 agency positions that would be eliminated under Gibbons' plan. Horsford said that eliminating the office would "really be a hardship on the average patient," adding, "I really think we need to restore funding at some level because there is no other avenue for consumers to address their complaints." Keeping eight of the positions would cost an additional $769,600 from the state general fund. State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio (R) asked the finance panel to wait at least until the state receives assurance that requirements for claiming federal stimulus funding will be waived. He said that keeping the office open should be a high priority once money becomes available, "but in closing the budget, I would not support that until [the waiver issue] is resolved" (Dornan, Nevada Appeal, 4/14).