KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Budget News From Kansas, Massachusetts and Idaho

News outlets report on state budget news in Kansas, Massachusetts, Idaho and Minnesota.

Kansas Health Institute reports that the recession is crippling Kansas' safety-net system. "The Kansas unemployment insurance system is virtually broke at a time when Department of Labor officials say they need about $15 million a week to pay benefits to out-of-work Kansans. In addition, the Kansas Health Policy Authority is working keep up with surging applications for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program with a staff depleted by budget cuts. The backlog is now above 16,000 though exact numbers won't be available until later this week, said Barb Langner, the agency's Medicaid director. A 10 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates ordered by Gov. Mark Parkinson to help deal with an anticipated $400 million shortfall in state revenues is also taking its toll on Kansans and the agency's ability to provide needed services" (1/26).

The Topeka Capital Journal reports that the Kansas state Senate Wednesday affirmed the $22 million in Medicaid cuts recommended by Gov. Parkinson. "An attempt to delete the cut to a program providing health care to the poor failed 16-24, with more than a dozen Republicans joining with Democrats to preserve this controversial element of the governor's plan for balancing the current budget. The Senate bill was then forwarded to the House for consideration" (Carpenter, 1/27).

The Boston Globe: "Despite last year's battle with state lawmakers over health insurance for legal immigrants, (Massachusetts) Governor Deval Patrick is calling for a 25 percent funding increase for the program, a total of $75 million, in his new budget proposal. … Massachusetts does not receive federal reimbursement for the immigrants' coverage, as it does for other health care programs." Massachusetts immigrants last year "lost their coverage in Commonwealth Care, the state-subsidized program for low-income residents, after lawmakers eliminated $130 million in funding to help balance the state's budget. The Legislature ultimately restored about a third of the money, and the immigrants were given stripped-down health care plans, with significantly higher copayments for medications and other treatments" (Lazar, 1/28).

The Coeur d'Alene Press/Idaho Statesman report that a proposed hike on Medicaid premiums has parents of disabled children worried about the additional cost. "Last week the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a new rule for Medicaid coverage that would require some families to pay a premium for disabled children's services." The proposal is now being considered by a House committee. The Statesman profiles one family that might be affected if the bill becomes law (Warren, 1/27).

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