Skip to comments.Fiscal Situation Causes States to Reconsider Medicaid Services
Posted on 07/24/2003 6:51:09 PM PDT by chance33_98
Fiscal Situation Causes States to Reconsider Medicaid Services
7/24/03 9:23:00 PM
To: National and State desks
Contact: Gene Rose of the National Conference of State Legislatures, 415-905-1020 (until July 25) or 303-856-1518; Web: http://www.ncsl.org
SAN FRANCISCO, July 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- At a time when the faltering economy is adding to the ranks of the needy, in some states you'll have to be poorer in 2004 to qualify for Medicaid than you did two years ago.
Cash-strapped states are struggling to cover as many people and services with this program as they did in the 1990s. A new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures' Health Policy Tracking Service shows that most states are managing to avoid turning people away entirely, though. State legislatures have turned first to reducing pharmaceutical costs, optional benefits and provider reimbursement to balance program budgets.
Although as many as 20 states considered significantly reducing their Medicaid rolls to save money, most avoided this by cutting other program areas and utilizing the $10 billion in federal aid Congress recently earmarked for Medicaid.
"These tight budget times have unfortunately called for sacrifices from everyone," said National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) President and Oklahoma state Sen. Angela Monson. "By and large, this safety net is still pulled taut under vulnerable Americans, but as healthcare costs rise, states are going to have to figure our how to do more with less money."
HPTS gathered the information for this report through a survey of legislative and executive actions that will affect Medicaid in fiscal year 2004. The results of the survey show that:
-- Thirty-seven states changed prescription drug laws. Some put in place or expanded preferred drug lists, prior-authorization rules or co-payments. Nine of these states, though, expanded or established medication assistance programs.
-- Twenty-three states reduced or eliminated optional benefits.
-- Twenty-two states established or increased patient co-payments, 19 for services other than prescription programs.
-- Thirty-eight states changed provider and service reimbursement rates, with 31 of these reducing or freezing rates.
Despite the fiscal pressures, some states are managing to broaden some benefits, in many cases shifting people from formerly state-run programs to Medicaid. In addition to the nine states that expanded or began prescription-assistance programs, seven states took advantage of federal programs to offer continual coverage to disabled citizens who want to stay in the workforce.
Reporters can obtain free copies of FY 2004 NCSL Medicaid Budget Survey, by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the public affairs staff at 405-905-1020.