KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid and Budget Issues: California, Nevada Officials Outline Dire Scenarios For Health Services

Central Valley Business Times: "California is going to have to pay a $51.8 billion bill for health and dental benefits for state retirees, says state Controller John Chiang in a report to the Legislature Tuesday. 'Even as we try to claw our way out of the recession and provide needed cash to the state's coffers, we cannot ignore the promise that we made to pay health and dental benefits for current state employees and retirees,' says Mr. Chiang" (2/9).

The Associated Press/The San Jose Mercury News: "Chiang, a Democrat, suggested the state can reduce its obligation by switching from a pay-as-you-go formula to a full-funding approach, which involves setting aside more money now so the state can use investment income to pay for future benefits. The report comes as the state is struggling to pay for core services such as public schools and universities" (Lin, 2/9).

Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Poor people eligible for free Medicaid health care no longer would receive eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids or as many adult diapers under the $109 million in social service spending reductions proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons. 'We are down to the ugly list of options of where we can cut,' Department of Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden told members of the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee on Tuesday. 'These things are beyond ugly,' replied Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas."

"Buckley warned the committee that even more disturbing cuts might be ahead for Willden's agency because so far, the governor has proposed reductions that total less than half of the $881 million in cuts the state must make to balance its budget" (Vogel, 2/10).

The Associated Press: "The grim proposals brought criticism and rebuke from lawmakers of both parties over Gov. Jim Gibbons' comments that Nevada can no longer pay for 'bloated government services'" (Chereb, 2/9).

Health News Florida: "A landmark lawsuit that seeks to rewrite Florida's Medicaid policy resumed today in Miami, with plaintiffs charging that state agencies'  tendency to switch plans without notice often leaves children with no access to care. Also, the suit alleges that Florida's Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low, and its bureaucratic webs so tangled, that doctors are disinclined to participate. As a result, said attorney Carl Goldfarb, Florida's Medicaid-eligible children are not receiving the recommended number of health screenings, blood lead tests or dental visits. ... The closely watched hearings, which broke off in January, are part of a class-action lawsuit claiming Florida's Medicaid program does not meet federal standards for childhood preventative health services" (Mack, 2/9). 

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