KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Budget Issues: Kansas To Downsize Hospitals For Disabled; Nevada May Cut Enrollment In Programs For Mentally Ill And Seniors

Kansas Health Institute reports on downsizing at hospitals for the developmentally disabled: "Admissions to Kansas Neurological Institute will be halted this summer and restricted at Parsons State Hospital, the state's top welfare agency official said today. Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, announced those decisions Monday before the House Social Services Budget Committee. Last year, the state's two hospitals for people with developmental disabilities recorded 20 admissions – two at KNI; 18 at Parsons. ... Jordan said he expects the moves to take about three years. A committee made up of hospital officials and advocates for the developmentally disabled will spend the summer developing new admission standards for the hospitals." The move comes after Gov. Mark Parkinson ordered state officials to identify patients who could be moved safely into community settings. Meanwhile, family members worry "that many medically fragile residents would not survive in community settings" (Ranney, 2/8).

The Las Vegas Sun: "During Gov. Jim Gibbons' State of the State speech Monday, he told Nevadans to prepare for a smaller state government. Although the list of what he wants to jettison is not finalized, and some of these cuts need legislative approval, lawmakers privately have signaled that many will go through. The cuts would run from the dramatic - allowing more mentally ill to become homeless - to the mundane - eliminating vacant positions." And, although the governor rejected proposed cuts, "such as eliminating a health insurance program that covers 22,000 children of the working poor, he proposed curtailing enrollment in programs that serve the mentally ill, mentally disabled and seniors" (Schwartz, 2/9).

The Concord Monitor: "State hospitals and health care providers are still calculating the impact of impending cuts to their funding. But, they warn, providers will not shoulder the cuts alone. Eventually, the cost of the services will be borne by average people through higher insurance premiums. ... On Friday, Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas laid out a series of cost-cutting measures needed to fill an expected $43 million shortfall in the department's budget for fiscal year 2010. The shortfall was due mostly to higher-than-expected caseloads. Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals, child-care subsidies and nursing homes were among the areas hardest hit" (Schoenberg, 2/9) 

Louisville Courier-Journal: With the worsening of the economy, "Kentucky's Medicaid rolls are rising faster than at any other time in the past decade, adding poor, disabled and low-income people at the rate of 3,400 a month. Kentucky's federal-state plan now covers about 790,000 people - a record number for the state and roughly 20 percent of its 4 million residents. More than half are children. ... As a result, Medicaid spending in Kentucky has jumped from $3.4 billion 10 years ago to the current $5.4 billion program, a 58 percent increase. And officials don't see any relief in the next two years, even as the state faces one of its biggest budget shortfalls ever" (Yetter, 2/9).

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