KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicaid Funding Subject Of Lawsuits In Massachusetts, Idaho

Some hospitals are suing Massachusetts' Medicaid program for underpaying. Idaho health agencies are broadening their own lawsuit against the state on Medicaid payment rules.

Boston Herald: "Six community hospitals will formally file a lawsuit against the state today, ratcheting up a dispute between the hospitals and the state agency that pays for some of the care they provide. Some three years after Massachusetts' ambitious health-care reform effort required all residents to have health insurance, the hospitals that serve the state's poorest residents say the state's below-market reimbursement rates are pushing them to the brink of financial ruin. Michael Collins, chief executive at Merrimack Valley Hospital, one of the six hospitals, said, 'The community hospitals involved in this lawsuit are unfairly bearing the cost of health-care reform'" (McConville, 12/1).

Cape Cod Times: "Cape Cod Hospital is one of six community hospitals in Massachusetts participating in a lawsuit against the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which is headed by Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. Bigby spokeswoman Jennifer Kritz said officials from her office couldn't comment on the lawsuit but had recently increased state payments to affected hospitals. 'We are confident that the state's actions comply with all applicable law and will be upheld,' she wrote." Cape Cod Hospital, says it lost $17 million over the last three years treating poor patients (McCormick, 12/1).

Associated Press: In Idaho, "private agencies that serve hundreds of severely developmentally delayed people … have asked a federal judge to allow them to broaden their lawsuit against the state and Medicaid over reimbursement rates." The suit began in April when the state moved to cut Medicaid rates by 55 percent. The companies said that would force them out of business and violate state laws because the new payment plan had not been approved by the Idaho legislature. Now the agencies say earlier rate cuts, going back to 1997, may have been illegal, too (Boone, 11/30).

WAMC (Albany, NY): "New York's fiscal crisis is now expected to have to take an additional $10 million bite out of the anti-tobacco program to help balance the state budget. The Governor's Budget Office argues that the cuts will NOT affect New York's leadership in convincing smokers to quit. Paterson's budget spokesman Matt Anderson says funding for anti-smoking programs will remain over $50 million" (Lucas, 11/30).

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