KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fla. Republicans Want Flexibility; Facing Shortfall, Idaho Looks To Volunteers; Mass. Dental Audit Reveals Millions In Wasted Funds

Health News Florida: "Florida Republican leaders made a clear statement during a special legislative session Tuesday: They want to overhaul the Medicaid program and don't want the federal government tying their hands. But that might ignore Washington realities. Congress this year required states to increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid in the future - the opposite of giving Florida more flexibility to run the program." Federal officials won't extend Florida's Medicaid "reform" pilot, instead requiring changes to it. '"I don't anticipate that the federal government is going to leave all the decisions up to states, especially when they [federal officials] provide such a large portion of the funding,' Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, said" (Saunders, 11/17).

The Spokesman-Review: Medicaid in Idaho is "facing such a big potential shortfall next year that officials are considering using volunteers to help those who now rely on its services. State Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong told state lawmakers Tuesday that back in the 1950s and 1960s, volunteers performed many services that Medicaid provides today, such as driving disabled people to doctor's appointments and checking on whether mentally ill patients have taken their medication." Armstrong told legislative budget writers that the state's program could be short "a projected $171.6 million in the fiscal year that starts next July - and one senator, Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, questioned whether that would put lives at risk. 'We would have to eliminate major categories of service,' Armstrong said" (Russell, 11/17).

The Boston Globe: A Massachusetts dental audit "has found that millions of [Medicaid] dollars are being wasted annually on claims that are unnecessary, inflated, and even possibly fraudulent. … Over the past four fiscal years, payments to the program's dental providers have more than doubled, from $116 million to more than $300 million, the auditor's office said." A major cause of unnecessary costs was excessive X-rays, which resulted in "$5.2 million in unallowable payments" (Finucane, 11/18).

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