- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
- Law firm that cleared N.J. Gov. Christie in ‘Bridgegate’ gave 10K to RGA, which he heads
- PETA ‘hopping mad’ at Michelle Obama for using real eggs at Easter Egg Roll
- Sneaky Nebraska toddler traps self inside claw machine game
- Biden to lead $600 million work force training effort
- Atheists’ Easter taunt to Christians: ‘Jesus is a myth’
- Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas City show
States struggle to pay for Medicaid
End of cash from stimulus package causes financial problems in budgets
Infused with billions of extra Medicaid dollars from President Obama's economic stimulus package, states have largely burned through the aid and are scrounging for a way to support programs bloated by the sluggish economy.
The majority of states have cut provider payments as they try to make up the lost funding and grapple with budget imbalances in fragile economies, according to an annual study of state Medicaid programs released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It's a double-whammy this year. On July 1, states lost the extra federal funding that reached $100 billion over three years and helped them pay for increased Medicaid enrollment. And while Medicaid growth has slowed, enrollment in the federal-state health-care program for the poor hasn't receded as unemployment remains above 9 percent.
"While the relief was enormously helpful, states are still battling persistently high unemployment rates," said Robin Rudowitz, associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
In 2009, Congress sent the states $87 billion in extra Medicaid funding as part of a massive stimulus bill that was intended to mitigate the recession. Legislators extended the aid through July, although it was originally intended to end in December 2010. At that point, states were far from recovery, Ms. Rudowitz said.
"When the relief began in October 2008, compared to when it was scheduled to end in December 2010, all states had higher unemployment rates than when the relief began," she said.
While the relief has boosted Medicaid spending over the last few years, state legislatures are dramatically pulling back now that they have to fork over more of the funding themselves.
Medicaid spending grew an average of 7.3 percent in the 2011 fiscal year that ended July 1. But state lawmakers authorized, on average, 2.2 percent spending growth for 2012, one of the lowest rates on record, the study found. Eleven states plan to decrease their Medicaid spending.
Concerns about paying for Medicaid run high. Officials in more than half the states reported a 50 percent chance of a Medicaid budget shortfall and almost 25 percent indicated a shortfall would be almost certain in 2012.
Many are turning to provider reimbursements to find savings, since accepting Washington's stimulus funding meant the states weren't allowed to restrict Medicaid eligibility, nor could they tighten enrollment procedures to make it more difficult to obtain coverage. Last year, 39 states cut provider rates and 46 states reported plans to do so next year.
Valerie Harr, a director for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, said she watched Medicaid enrollment in her state increase 22 percent from July 2008 to June 2011.
"On a good day, I feel [as happy as] the Dick Van Dyke character Bert in 'Mary Poppins,'" she said. "On a bad day, I can feel like a sherpa climbing Mount Everest."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- A familiar fading feeling for McMahon in Connecticut
- Romney’s bid to undo health law faces hurdles
- Hill GOP presses Medicare probe
- Romney, Obama advisors butt heads over binders, Big Bird and “Romnesia”
- Outsiders abide by rules in Brown-Warren race
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By returning to Christian roots, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- EDITORIAL: Intolerance at Brandeis silences Muslim dissident Hirsi Ali
- Kirsten Dunst: Actress sparks feminist ire: 'You need a man to be a man'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.