KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Governors Seek Allies For Medicaid, Health Program Budget Cuts, Changes

In response to struggling state budgets, governors in California, Illinois, Kansas and Louisiana are looking for allies to support cuts and changes to their Medicaid and other health care programs.

Sacramento Bee: Brown: California Budget Deficit Rises To $16 Billion
In a gloomy preview of his May budget release, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday that California's deficit has mushroomed to $16 billion, nearly $7 billion higher than he last estimated. The Democratic governor blamed a slow economic recovery, as well as federal judges and administrators who blocked cuts to health care for the poor. Brown had previously pegged the deficit at $9.2 billion (Yamamura, 5/13).

The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times: Quinn Finds Unlikely Allies In Business Community
Gov. Pat Quinn built his career on populism and consumer advocacy. But, in the middle of what might be his defining political moment, he finds himself in an unlikely alliance with major Illinois business groups in a battle against unions and advocates for the poor. Quinn has proposed sharp cuts in both Medicaid and pensions for government workers to save billions in expenses the state can't afford to pay. In that, he for the most part has the support of the state's business community (Mercer, 5/13).

Kansas Health Institute News: CMS Posts KanCare Proposal, Invites Public Comment 
Gov. Sam Brownback's plan for overhauling the state’s Medicaid program has been posted on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. The Thursday posting marks the start of a 30-day public comment period on the CMS website. ... Under KanCare, virtually all the state's 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries would be auto-assigned to one of three managed care plans run by private insurance companies, starting Jan. 1, 2013 (Ranney, 5/11). 

California Healthline: New Budget to Hit Health Care Programs? 
Now that the state is staring at the business end of a $16 billion deficit -- almost $7 billion greater than January estimates -- many in the health care community are certain that safety-net programs could be cut even further (Gorn, 5/14). 

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Louisiana House Puts Budget Cuts In Bobby Jindal Administration's Hands 
The $25 billion spending package now puts a total of about $300 million in unspecified cuts in the hands of administration officials, who said the representatives were largely calling for cuts in areas where there was no more fat to trim. The bulk of the reductions will likely fall on higher education and health care, which have already taken hard hits from midyear cuts and other reductions but also represent the largest areas of discretionary spending (Adelson, 5/12). 

In the meantime, Medicaid's transition to managed care in Kentucky suffers growing pains -- and lawsuits --

Modern Healthcare: Transitional Woes
As states increasingly turn to managed care to control Medicaid costs, a pair of lawsuits in Kentucky shows the growing pains that can complicate the transition. Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Lexington, is suing the state of Kentucky and two Medicaid contractors in a move that speaks to deeper seated concerns about the adoption of a statewide managed-care program last year (Kutscher, 5/12).

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